#Audio. A mother finds solace in music during a delay at the airport.
Kathleen stared up at the status board, and couldn’t help letting out a frustrated groan. Her flight had been delayed. Again. She liked her life as a road warrior, for the most part. She got to stay in lovely hotels, spend time in all the great cities of the world, and, she would probably never run out of frequent flier miles and first class upgrades. Flight delays, however, were something she would never enjoy.
Still, there were times when she longed to walk through the door to her own home to a sloppy, drooly greeting from her dog, a nearly ancient flat-coated retriever named Parker. (He was named after her childhood crush, Parker Stevenson, whom she used to watch every week on The Hardy Boys. No one, she thought, had ever made a better Frank.)
#Audio. Happy Hanukkah! It’s the second night of Hanukkah, so this is a Hanukkah story.
She played the chord again, and saw the children gathered around her focus their attention. And why not? They’d grown up with digital instruments: violins and cellos that relied on computer chips for their tone, guitars that made their sound through a wireless amplifier, and pianos that could be rolled into a cylinder the size of a zip-top sandwich bag. Her guitar didn’t have any chips, and it couldn’t be made smaller. It was wire and wood and care and love and history, and its lines were the only ones Sylvia had caressed since her beloved Harry had passed on five years before.
“I’m going to sing you an old song now,” she told them. “And you’re going to sing it with me. It’s in Hebrew. So, listen once, and then repeat.”
Sunday Brunch column for Modern Creative Life. An essay on the flames we light in winter.
And yet, these winter holidays all have something in common as well – aside from the tendency to celebrate with incredibly delicious, albeit unhealthy foods. They all bring light to the longest nights of the year.
Flash-fiction written for 2016 Holidailies: A young woman and her grandmother add Holiday Magic to some seasonal plants.
The inside of the greenhouse is a technological marvel, with heat lamps and misters and every kind of measuring implement ever invented to track growth rates and division patterns, to determine optimal climate zones and confirm hardiness. Even the ceiling was programmable on a section-by-section basis so that day-lilies could thrive next to night-blooming cactus if the Gardeners so desired.
Flash-fiction: an aunt and niece discuss the holidays and Eartha Kitt.
The older woman’s dithering lit a fire in her niece. “Aunt Lena you have been playing hermit at Christmas since I was sixteen years old. I’m twenty-six now, and Brian is probably going to propose on Christmas Eve, and I want my only aunt to be there.” She took a beat. “Besides, who else will I be able to mock all the cheesy Christmas music with?”
Rather, I’m a backyard bird-watcher. I enjoy following the antics of the bully Blue Jay who drives the starlings and finches out of the trees, only for them to settle right back in. Winter comes with doves, one of whom insists that the birdfeeder is really her nest. She never stays in it for long, though. In spring and summer, we have robins and hummingbirds who buzz our windows and skim low over the puppy pool, stealing sips of water, or using it as a bath. (We don’t chlorinate the puppy pool.)
It wasn’t usual anymore, the burying of bodies, but I had insisted. “I want to bring him home. I want to bury him next to his grandfather.”
And so, even though we live in an age when the dead are cremated and the ashes mixed into the gardens, or, if you had the resources, consigned to the heart of a star, we put the body of our stillborn son in stasis and carted him half way across the quadrant for an old-fashioned funeral.
Several months ago, I was reminded that K’Ehleyr from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Marshall’s mom on How I Met Your Mother were both played by Suzi Plakson. Fanfiction happened. Nuchtchas was kind enough to read it for me.
“Arch!” Again, her commands were spoken too quietly for him to hear, but the temperature dropped rapidly as the jungle was supplanted by a frozen pond surrounded by jagged peaks of snow and ice. “Take this,” she said, tossing him a long wooden stick that curved into a soft L-shape at the end.
“This is a hockey stick!”
“You know hockey? Good, that will help.” Again, with the purring. Why did she insist upon making that sound? Did she know how it got to him?