The attic was musty with a slight chill. Crawling through the spider webs was a completely unpleasant experience but she knew it had to be done. Stella pulled the last few boxes from where the roof sloped downward, moving them into the center of the attic. Old remnants of rugs had been placed in some areas over the boards making it was easier on her knees as she inched along. She carried a box down the rickety fold up steps, one at a time until all of them were in the laundry room. There was no way carrying more than one would be advisable. Just in case she carried her cell phone and a flashlight, fearing being trapped in the attic.
It was a good project for her to accomplish this evening. Stella had the house all to herself. Her kids had moved out after college and that left just she and her grumpy abusive husband in the house. Thankfully he was often at the local tavern with his buddies and this left her in peace to get things organized.
Many of the boxes in the attic had been relocated by the moving company when her parents’ house was finally sold. Stella knew she had to go through them eventually but wanted to do it alone. The boxes were unlabeled but she had some ideas what the contents might be.
She undid the flap on the first box and began setting aside old newspapers that were used as packing material. So much had happened in 1972 when this box was sent off to be stored. That was the year her grandfather had passed away. Stella’s father was devastated and could hardly even talk about how it happened. She never knew her grandfather but it seemed there were many stories to tell about his life. Some stories remained untold.
The satchel inside the box caught Stella’s eye. It was black and looked like a doctor’s bag. It was still in good condition. She set it on the washing machine and unbuckled the straps. There it was…..the ransom money. Hundred dollar bills in bundles still wrapped in the bands used by the bank. $5,000 per bundle! Stella had no idea how many bundles but knew that she would count them later.
She repackaged the rest of the box and stacked all the boxes in the utility room. Taking the satchel she went to her bedroom, removed a suitcase from under the bed, slipped it inside and pushed it back under the twin size bed. Her heart was racing. She sat on the bed for a few moments and whispered to herself over and over “just breathe….just breathe”.
The hours had gotten away from her and that meant her husband was expected at anytime. Sometimes he got angry with his friends and came home early to continue his drinking. Other nights he arrived with the sunrise, staggering up the path and collapsing on the sofa. Either way Stella would remain in her bedroom that she had taken over when her daughter moved a few states away with her boyfriend. Although the room was small she was thankful the addition had allowed for a private bathroom which was adjoined. Mostly she was thankful for the lock on the solid wood door.
Stella continued to sort through the boxes and found newspaper clippings telling the tale of her grandfather’s involvement in the kidnapping of a prominent business owner’s wife. There were several others allegedly involved. The wife had been returned unharmed. There was not sufficient evidence and the business owner made the decision to not proceed with the case in court. Each man involved served 5 years probation. That same year Stella’s grandfather suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly.
She often wondered about her grandfather. Somehow she felt a strong connection to a man she never knew. Once she had heard her father refer to him as a “fallen hero”. Either way the discovery made in the attic changed everything.
A few weeks later Stella woke up on a crisp Saturday morning. She peered out her bedroom door to confirm that her husband still lay snoring on the sofa in the living room. Stella grabbed her purse, a suitcase she had packed with some personal items, a cosmetic case full of the ransom money and the remnants of her pride. She left her cell phone on the nightstand. When the time was right she would contact her children to let them know she was safe. She had packed the two scrapbooks she made from the family photos and memories. Someday she would mail them each the scrapbooks, but not today. The door to her bedroom locked behind her. The key would remain on the chain around her neck until the taxi dropped her off at the train station.
Most likely no one would notice Stella was missing, just like the bag of ransom money that no one sought once the crime was yesterday’s news.
ATC cards I drew for a swap with my Facebook group! I like giraffes. Perhaps I admire their tallness. These were festive looking giraffes ready for a summer party!
It is so sad to watch your life slip away into an abyss of loneliness and grief. You have so many of us rooting for you to overcome the addictions that held you back. We believed you when you lied to us and said you were done with it, thinking the last round of rehab would be the last. It was hard to swallow the bitter truth that you were only getting better at hiding your actions and deceiving those who cared about you the most.
You will never receive this letter. It is only meant to help me sort out the reasons why an addiction can change so many of the lives that surround it. I am still trying to grip the changes it made to my own life. There is no chance to go back for a peaceful resolve. My life had to move forward even when yours could only look back.
I see how your actions hardened my heart a little, becoming a little less compassionate. Could not understand how someone could disregard the effects their own actions cause to others. Just yesterday I lost my cool on a neighborhood friend who tried to explain to me how he was “accidentally shot up with a heroin needle” while he was sleeping at a relative’s house. Being in that location was not an accident. Thinking that he wants to beat heroin he had no reason to be there. I found myself not believing the accident theory. Expressing my hurt at seeing him still doing drugs only means that now there is no word from him. I wish he would try to help himself as much as those of us around are trying to help. He knows I am angry and will stay away, an easier solution than facing the truth.
Just one look at a friend and I could tell he was using again. That shallow tired look in his eyes with a hint of sadness. It is not always easy to tell. I never want to be an expert at spotting an addiction. Some people really do not want to seek a cure and the poison consumes them. I have watched friends die and shed many tears over their loss. My heart hurts just typing these words.
It doesn’t matter what poison you choose. The poison certainly doesn’t care.
I look back and consider the things in my own life that I would consider an addiction. Not proud of those things but yet I have to recognize them about myself. There are some things that I repeatedly allow myself to lose self control. I continue to make bad choices. Part of becoming a better person means that I just have to keep on trying. Not beating myself up for yesterday. Certainly I am not qualified to judge you or anyone else for the things that you choose to do with your own life.
Again I remind myself that this letter is not going anywhere. It remains only for me to sort out my thoughts. Most likely it will not resolve anything other than making me feel a little better about the times in my life that did not happen because my path was altered by someone else’s addiction. It ultimately is my path and I continue to move forward. The past often gets in the way of the present but it is also a part of me and the experiences move with me into new friendships.
I have chosen to seek out the positive things in life. Often I have to remind myself that my addicted friends are not intending to hurt me. Whatever poison they have choose really has nothing to do with me. I can be your friend but I can’t fix you. I can love you even when you hate yourself, but enabling you is not the answer.
We are all in the process of healing from something. I pray that you find ways to recover and let the healing begin.
The Daily Post: Daily Prompts: 8/22/14: Pick Your Poison
My sister turned 50 awhile back and this is the wristlet I made for her to wear at the big surprise party. It matched the awesome table decorations. All made from recycled tissue paper, buttons and pipe cleaners.
Raymond’s parents were excited when their son showed an interest in nature. They eagerly fulfilled his birthday request for a pair of binoculars. His father insisted on getting the most up to date and the top of the line equipment. His mother was excited, hoping her son would share stories of his glimpses of butterflies, birds and deer. A dream fulfilled for any 15 year old.
The day after his birthday celebration Raymond set off on his regular visits to the nearby park. It was state owned land that had been preserved from being developed. The park ranger was used to seeing Raymond following the trails frequently. Although he didn’t know Raymond’s name they often waved to each other. Today he complimented him on his new equipment and Raymond just beamed with his excitement.
His favorite was trail #7. It was not the most used trail since it just looped around the back end of town. Raymond hurried along, anxious to reach the destination he had carefully selected for testing out his new binoculars. He had dreamed about this moment and had his backpack ready for the last few weeks with all he needed. The binoculars hung from the leather strap around his neck.
He had rarely seen anyone else on this trail but still took another glance around before laying his blanket on the patch of grass beneath the trees. Before sitting he undid his belt and the button on his cargo pants. His pants seemed tighter than usual. Once situated he quickly started adjusting the focus on his new binoculars.
It was easy to spot Melonie’s house on the end of street. Her family had a big built in pool with a fence surrounding it. The elevation of the park allowed a clear view into her backyard and all the windows along the back of the house. Then he waited.
At 10am he spotted Melonie in her bedroom. She never had the curtains closed. He knew this from watching her window many times before. The binoculars confirmed that and he zoomed in close. Intent on not missing anything, Raymond did not move and his eyes remained glued on the window. A few seconds later Melonie walked past the window again wearing a light pink bikini and a light coverup that looked like lace. Moments later she was outside laying on a lounge chair next to the pool.
Raymond would have stayed there for hours, days, or weeks. Something had spooked him. Perhaps the noise that echoed through the forest or the puddle that had formed in his pants. He scurried back home.
That evening after dinner he carefully wrote a note to drop off at Melonie’s house. It said “You are so pretty. I liked looking at you in your bikini. I’ll be watching again tomorrow at 10. Signed, Your Secret Admirer”. He folded the note and wrote her name on the outside. He walked the few blocks to put it on her porch glad that he had snipped a daisy from his mother’s garden to place with his note. No one saw him.
That night he could hardly sleep but set his alarm for early the next day. Melonie was nice to him during the school year making summer recess torture for Raymond. He had followed her home from the shopping center one day to find out where she lived. The crush he had on her was getting bigger as the summer dragged into August.
By 9:30am the next day Raymond was at his secret location. This time he did more than just unbuckle and unbutton. The zipper was down. His underwear was home. The binoculars peered into a close up view of Melonie’s bedroom window. He waited….
Melonie had known she had a secret admirer. The little gifts and notes that were left at her locker in school always made her smile. It did not make her uneasy until the day a note appeared on the porch at her home. She wondered about it all night. She knew she would stand at the window at 10am but pondered what she would wear.
There was no one to discuss her new secret. Certainly her parents would not understand. Finally she decided to tease her young admirer. At 10am she stood in front of her bedroom window. She carefully removed her pajamas and stood naked looking out into the unknown hiding place of her stalking admirer. Turning around she bent over and picked up her bikini. Today she would be wearing the black suit, taking longer than usual to get ready. It excited her to wonder if eyes were watching her. Just in case she piroetted before going down to the pool.
At dusk the park ranger found Raymond at the far end of Trail #7. It was a little startling to see the boy so late in the day. The blanket was wrapped around him. He called out to him as he approached and Raymond just rolled over and looked at him. The boy was naked below the waist. One hand clutched his binoculars and the other tightly grasped his privates. The park ranger helped him up. While the boy got dressed the ranger picked up the wet blanket and draped it over the nearest clump of bushes.
As they walked together back along the trail, Raymond told the ranger all about Melonie. The ranger smiled knowingly, reminding Raymond to come back tomorrow to pick up his blanket and make sure he was gone before dusk in the future.
The Daily Post: Daily Prompts: 8/15/14 Secret Admirers
Still laying on the operating table, Brady began to recognize the sounds of his surroundings. He heard nurses congratulating doctors, doctors speaking of the difficulties they had overcome during the procedure, metal instruments being gathered and machines beeping. The nurses adjusted his blankets and chatted about their after work plans. The patient was gradually becoming more alert.
Brady dared not open his eyes. There were images in his mind that confused him. The overpowering light shown onto an unfamiliar path. He tried to remain calm and hoped the doctor would speak with him soon. Meanwhile he could not erase the vision or the uneasy feeling that sent chills through his body. A nurse sensed him quivering and adjusted the blankets one more time.
Meanwhile he tried to retrace his steps. He remembered the office building shaking from the earthquake and his co-worker pulling him away from the windows. It was seconds too late as the shattering glass flew towards Brady. Together they stumbled to the stairwell. Bob was able to help Brady down the two flights of stairs to the main level. The exertion was too much for Bob and he collapsed on the landing. Emergency personnel were arriving quickly. After assessing their condition it was obvious both men needed the next transport to the hospital.
The ride to the hospital was dismal. Brady was in a high level of pain. Bob did not answer when he called out to him. Both men had worked together for the past few years, spending hours in neighboring cubicles. They would often share stories of clients and wives over lunch or the occasional company function. Sharing a ride to the hospital was never something they discussed.
Finally, the doctor gently placed his hand on Brady’s arm and asked him if he could hear him. The patient could hear the tremble in his own voice as he answered “yes”. As if choosing his words carefully the doctor began to explain how the shattered glass had caused severe damage to the corneas of both eyes. This serious condition would have left Brady blind for the rest of his life. It was necessary to do an organ transplant immediately.
Slowly Brady began to understand. The vision he had seen was not his own. Bob had not survived his own internal injuries that day. Not only had his co-worker saved his life, but he had enabled him to have sight. The wooded path leading to the light was the last vision Bob had seen with the eyes that now belonged to Brady.
It was several weeks until Brady was able to have the bandages removed. Still longer until he could see clearly. His wife came to pick him up a month later to drive him home, however Brady gave her directions to another location. He knocked on the door and recognized her as soon as it opened. Leah started to cry but Brady wiped the tears and hugged her tightly. Finally he walked back to the car. He headed home to continue healing the wounds that did not show.
This week’s challenge was to use this photo as inspiration for the story AND since I usually write as a female the extra challenge was for me to write from a male perspective!
Prompt: DailyPromts 7/31/14. “Handmade Tales”
Somehow her art had become a twisted expression of her life. Although the abuse had stopped many years ago, the scars remained. Allie remained distant and aloof. Her days involved a job that bored her silly for 9 hours a day. Her nights were absorbed with reading the daily newspaper in it’s entirety. The television remained dark as she prepared for another day at work. Her outfit was always picked out, ironed and draped over the back of a chair. It was a routine.
Weekends disrupted her routine. A trip to the library was a big adventure and the smell of a zillion books were a comfort. Allie could hide in the history section for hours. It all served to keep the flashbacks away but rarely did she smile.
This Saturday was different. The new reference clerk closely resembled her tormenter. The stout man peered at her over his reading glasses sending shivers down her neck. She stared so long he asked if she had a question. Shaking her head she raced off to another area.
The art section was all new to her. It was tucked in the back beyond the cookbooks and home decor. She quickly grabbed a book and headed for a chair in the corner. She glanced around to insure she was alone before opening the book. Someone had left a scrap of paper marking page 138. Allie’s eyes went to the model posed for a figure drawing class. Instructions followed to draw the female body in a step by step format.
Allie closed the book, rushed to the librarian desk and presented her library card. “Art for the Ages” was hers for two weeks. She forgot her supermarket trip and scurried home. Her mind could not sort all the thoughts going on inside it. Hours later, she fell fast asleep with the book on her lap.
She woke during the night because the next morning her nightgown was still draped over the back of the chair. She snuggled under the covers as slowly she opened her eyes at 6:20am, as she did everyday. Today felt different to her. A smile rested on the edge of her lips. Realizing her thirst, Allie kicked the covers aside, found her slippers beside the bed and headed off to the kitchen.
On the table she saw the figure molded from old newspapers, twisted together with a mix of glue and water. It was 18″ tall and resembled her own dimensions. The coffee maker gurgled at 6:30am, as it does everyday. She turned to fill a mug, naked for the first time ever in her own kitchen.
Allie sat at the table sipping and staring at the sculpture. After pouring a second cup she began to finish the project. Like herself the scars were there but deep inside the healing had begun. She stopped to make a light lunch but went back to rubbing her hands over the sculpture to smooth the edges.
At 7:00pm she decided it was done. After her dinner she took a stroll in the garden and picked some vegetables ready to harvest. The evening breeze was soothing. She felt happy with her accomplishment but was weary. Allie was asleep soon after her head met the pillow. Her nightgown was still draped over the chair.