A Lifetime Fulfilled

9-19-13     The prompt:      “Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so merges with sunlight and air and running water that whole eons, the eons that mountains and deserts know, might pass in a single afternoon.”              Henry David Thoreau


The hillside lay cool under the weight of my body.  I wasn’t too concerned about crushing the blades of grass, but the thought did enter my mind that they may be uncomfortable.  My stare was out across the valley and over the hills opposite.  Beyond the green hills were bluer peaks far off in the distance.  I suspected that they were in another county, and that I would never see them again or climb them.  The hill I lay upon was world enough.  A hawk soared across my view, wheeling about as it sought dinner in the high grass and brush below me.

My purpose here was to stop being purposeful.  I had had enough, and the world was something I was about to leave behind.  The location had been chosen months before, recovered from a memory of love and early passion.  For me, life had begun here, and it was fitting that this would be the last sight.

I had no tears for the position I was in.  It was life that had brought me here, and life flowing through me that kept me still and aware.

I’m not dead yet, and every second is as precious as the one before and the one after.  This was just the tapering off of all the wild expressions of self that had filled the last ninety years.  I have all my teeth, my eyes work well so far, and the body pressed against the ground has served me well.  Surrendering it at the end of my hitch just seems logical.

In the later part of my life, I had the experience of being taught about death.  Not directly, but from folks I knew who had a young daughter who couldn’t live any longer.  Her spirit was willing.  The body refused.  There was no fear in her life.  She hadn’t developed that at her age.  There also wasn’t fear in her parents.  Regret, maybe, but no fear.  “It’s like stepping behind a curtain,” they said.  “You can still hear us, and we can hear you.  We know you’re there; we just can’t see you.  And one day, we’ll come back around the curtain and be with you forever.”

I remembered that deep down in my core for all of my life.  The grace of the gesture was the deepest of gifts.  And here, now, I was about to step behind that curtain and be reunited with all who had gone before.

I was grateful that I had kept quiet and still.  No hysteria would be welcome here, and the world would keep on spinning as I turned the corner.  I was aware of the consequences of sharing.  It would surely lead toward beeping instruments and bright lights, fussing bodies and stark smelling spaces.  No, surely silence is golden.

The hawk sailed across my view once again, still searching for something to make it happy.  A slight breeze picked up, and a blade of grass blew against my ear.  It didn’t tickle.  It comforted and cradled.  I breathed in the scent of the valley blowing up the hill from far down below.  The scent was a deep green, and mixed with the blue and white of the sky.  The colors swirled in the breeze.

I felt the breath flow into my body, and out again.  I had the strength and foresight to turn my head slightly to the right, and was not surprised to see my love lying beside me, gazing into my eyes, and then up into the sky to follow the hawk.  My hand was filled with the warmth of her touch.  I smiled, closed my eyes, and slept forever.

Some Bunny Loves You

9-26-13  3 step prompt, picked at random.  Write about –

A thought:   That bunny has nice long ears he can tug on when he’s anxious.

A feeling:    Lassitude

A sensation:  I feel as though spiders were crawling on my skin.


I awoke with a start.  The clock on the bedside table read 3:21.  I didn’t know what it was that had spooked me, but I felt as though spiders were crawling on my skin.   I pulled the covers up around my chin and rolled to my side to increase the contact on my body.  I needed that sense of being touched to feel safe.  The spiders slowly left, and I lay on my side in the dark, pondering life and my place in it.

Work had been going downhill fast.  I started something, and was overcome with lassitude halfway through the job.  I had to force myself to work these days.  Thoughts of poverty didn’t help.  Homelessness in this Valley was beginning to seem like sitting in the lap of luxury.  What could I do to motivate myself?  Lying in bed until 7 am wouldn’t do it anymore.  Clients don’t stand for lateness more than two or three times.  Pretty soon the calls would become few and far between.  I resolved to do better, and closed my eyes.

When I awoke, it was 7:30, and the alarm clock had been shut off.  Now I knew I was in trouble.  I didn’t even remember my self-destructive behavior anymore.  I threw my clothes on, brushed teeth and hair, and ran to the van.  My resolution had been hijacked by fate.

Painting in the morning went well.  Carpentry and a bit of trim work went okay in the afternoon. That evening, the newly installed toilet leaked for fifteen minutes before I tightened the right bolt.  I didn’t dare charge what the job was worth.  I felt bad for the client because my heart didn’t seem to be in it.

I dragged myself home and collapsed into bed.  Isn’t this where it all started?  Come on, spiders, do your thing.  I thought about writing for a little while, but couldn’t come up with anything.  Good for me.  First workers block, and now writers block.  I pulled the blanket tight, the autistic in me wanting full contact.

The clock read 3:11 when I awoke this time.  Still black as night.  Funny, that expression.  Could you use it when describing nighttime?  I rolled over and turned on the light, squinting to avoid the “sudden light” headache.  I sensed a small movement in the far corner of the bedroom, and sat bolt upright.  There, sitting in the corner of my bedroom, was a larger than life cartoon bunny, dressed in a light blue suit with black slippers on.  It sat there, looking scared and glum, and pulled on it’s ears.  I didn’t know which of us was more surprised.

From my position in bed, I studied the bunny for a while without making a move or sound.  I didn’t want to scare the little thing.  I did for a moment wonder where reason had gone.  Perhaps I was actually still asleep.  I pinched myself on the left arm, not hard enough to really hurt but just to check.  When I did this, I saw the bunny flinch.  Curiouser and curiouser.  I tipped my head to the side a bit, and the bunny blinked.  I crossed my legs and folded my hands in my lap.  Bunny looked ready to run through the wall.  Should I?  I wondered.  What the hell.

“Excuse me,” I said in a quiet voice, “but can I help you with something?”

Bunny leaned forward a bit, and wiggled its nose at me.  It did release it’s ears and sit back a bit, looking slightly more relaxed.

“Are you a boy bunny or a girl bunny?”  I said.

Can you imagine a rabbit giving me a look as though I was the biggest moron it had ever met?  Cocked head, cocked eyebrow.

“Would you like to join me up here where it’s cozy?” I asked.

Bunny hesitated a bit, then moved forward and hopped up onto the bed, scrabbling with its hind legs for traction and moving over to my side. I lay down facing the bunny and just looked at it.  It hunkered down, closed its eyes, and was asleep.

Well, as Robert Heinlein once said, “There was nothing I could do, so I took a nap.”  I rolled over to turn the light off, and lay myself down to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, it was a minute to five; my usual time to rise, and the bunny was still there.  I got up fior my morning ablutions, came in to dress, and got out of the house to go to work.  Mr. Bunny would have to fend for himself.

I felt good about work, and the bunny stayed with me for a good long while.  We became companions, and motivators.  I kept working, and the bunny relaxed in my company.  I had no idea what it did while I was out for the day, but it was always there in the evening.  Welcome home.

A Face In Need of a Fist

9-12-13  The prompt:  Two words

Sgriob (Gaelic): The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey

Backfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist

Write for 30 minutes

I was sitting in the pub in Westport with the sibs.  We had flown in to Shannon earlier, visiting the old haunts up on Croagh Patrick for our semi-bi-annually-monthly visit to Dad’s folly.  The twenty seven acres stood there mute and immutable, yet taunting us viciously even over the seas to America.  “No,” said the building council.  “You may not build on the land.  If you want a house, we have plenty of them vacant here in town, and it’s your lot that’s to blame for it all.  You can even remodel it from the bones of those that haven’t been picked clean yet.  No one will stop ye, but there will be no building up in the Patrick’s Mountain.”

We were holding a whiskey-fueled council to try to figure out what to do in this most unfortunate of all circumstances.  Kathy arrived at the table, back from the bar with a first load of glasses.  I held mine under my snoot, and was overcome.  “Sgriob,” said the oldster sitting behind me.

“Slainte,” said I in return.

“No, no,” he said. “Sgriob is that tickling that was moving your upper lip toward a sneeze.  We’re all on intimate terms with it here.  It’s the sign of quality whiskey.  Sneeze if you must, but without sgriob, that’s a wasted hoist of the arm if you ask me.”

I smiled and raised my glass to toast him.  He joined in with his pint.

A boisterous crowd chose that moment to enter the sanctuary of fine intelligent folk.  Eight or ten Germans taking the tour on holiday, and they were comparing the virtues of German beer with all the vices of the Irish piss in a circular tour around our fair isle.  The disparaging voices were at once filled with stout, and then sprayed onto the floor in disgust.  Why, oh why did we have to endure such from our continental cousins?  Did they see us over there commenting on the German habits of beer making, those that included swimming in the vats and pissing into the batches?  No, we were too polite and intellectual for such boorishness.

A single rotund and rosy-faced traveler broke off from the pack and began to make the rounds of the sitting area.  As he passed by trolling for a citizen to harass, Chris did one of those backhanded gesundheits that actually came out as “Backfeifengesicht!”  Herr Roly-Poly froze in his tracks and swept our group with his eyes.

His fists clenched, and his hue went from florid toward crimson.  “Was ist?” he shouted.  Chris, ever the statesman, sneezed again. “Backfeifengesicht!”  The German was in his face in an instant. “Was?!”

Chris was on his feet, glass in hand, chin jutting forward and eye to eye with the visitor.  And then, in a spectacular move, he rocked back and swallowed his entire glass of whiskey in a single gulp.  No tears, no whoops, no gasp.  Just a smile, and he sat back down.

Chris turned toward Deirdre and asked in a very nonchalant voice “Do you think we could convince the council if we invited them out for a few tomorrow night?”

Deirdre remembered to close her mouth, and nodded slowly.  “I bet that’s what they’re waiting for.  They just want to know that we’re friendly, and mean no harm.”

Herr Fatboy didn’t know what to do.  He stood there staring at us for a few seconds, and headed back to his mob.  His step was a bit softer, and his head a bit lower. No wind had his sails.  Defeated again.  Five minutes later, they left the pub to blissful peace, and a murmur flowed through the pub.

“What was that you sneezed at the old kraut?” asked the gent sitting behind me.

Chris grinned a sort of crooked grin, and explained in the half-Irish he feigns.  “I said ‘backfeifengesicht.’  It’s an old German word meaning ‘a face badly in need of a fist.’  The old fool must have been well-read if he could have such a reaction to it.  I learned it on the flight over.”  He held up a small paperback tome entitled ‘Swear Your Way Across Europe.”

Well, that did it.  We didn’t pay for another round all night as the word spread of the epic heroism of the American cousin who came all the way over to Westport to uphold the honor of the cherished Isle against the Hun.  By the end of the night we tumbled out onto the street, firmly convinced that we were related to every single inhabitant of the town.  I suspect that if there were any locks left on the gates of the city after the latest round of mortgage backed security ravaging that we would be presented with the key by Hizzhonor the Mayor tomorrow morning.  The invaders had been turned back, and all was right with the world.