PDA

View Full Version : Tumbleweeds



nerot
November 10th, 2011, 01:21 AM
Miriam did not want to get up when morning arrived. The arthritis that had been plaguing her for the past few months by attacking one joint at a time had targeted her neck making it stiff and painful. Every time she had changed position during the night she was subject to a fresh wave of agonizing pain. The lack of sleep made her feel like her head was stuffed with cotton and she couldn’t turn her head in any direction at all. She put on her t-shirt and jeans, (she had already put her “grouchy” on) and shuffled to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee on her way out to sit on her garden bench. She sat there staring straight ahead, sipping the coffee, hoping that she could pull out something sweet from the day, which like her mood, was starting out pretty sour.

The rain that had fallen the day before had done a good job washing the air. For the first time in weeks, the ever present smell of wood burning from the forest fires that had surrounded her home was gone. The blossoms on her Catalpa tree had been stripped by the showers and the petals that remained littered the lawn like pale pink summer snowflakes. Her coffee and the fresh air were starting to do the trick as she began to relax into her day. She had to turn her entire upper body to take a look at her Morning Glories to see how they had fared during yesterday’s rain. Her eyes just happened to land on the biggest shiniest leaf of the bunch. It was about the size of her hand, bright green, and was facing her dead on. It was like receiving a love letter. She had never noticed in all these years that Morning Glory leaves are shaped like HEARTS! Her day had already changed for the better.

The night before as she and her husband sat in their “his and her” recliners he said to her, “I turned in that piece of paperwork. I gave it to Joe.” It was that piece of paperwork that cost her husband his job. They just looked at each other with nothing to say. After twenty years of marriage they knew each other well enough to know what the other was thinking and they knew Joe. He had been with the company for thirteen years; his longevity was by default not merit. He fancied himself as the boss, harassed and harangued the other drivers over the CB and bad mouthed them behind their backs. If he had a backbone, it would be yellow, and like any bully he cowered and whimpered as soon as someone confronted him. Then he moved on to the next likely target. None of the drivers had any use for him. He had been walking on thin ice with the company since it was discovered that he had been padding his hours. So when the paperwork issue came up, he blamed it on Miriam's husband and her husband lost his job.

She could feel the heat rising up from the bricks on her patio while she was lost in her thoughts. There was no breeze or clouds in the sky. The sky’s color was that perfect shade of blue that can’t be matched by any artist’s medium. It seemed to go on forever and Miriam reminded herself that it does indeed go on forever. It was a miracle that she often took for granted. The day promised to be another scorcher and she noticed that her bench needed a coat of stain; the wood looked thirsty and gray. The iron scrollwork that adorned the back, legs, and armrests was rusting. She didn’t know quite what to do about that. “Chances are I will do nothing", she said out loud even though she was alone, "because I like the rusty look. It makes it seem old, comfortable, and well loved. My garden bench is all of those things to me." There was still stiffness and soreness in her neck but she knew she would manage if she kept her focus on her Morning Glories. She could see that new little plants were pushing their way up to greet the world; their fat little leaves spread wide to catch every bit of sun and rain that they could.

The soles of her shoes made a scratching sound as she rounded the corner on her way to the faucet to begin to water the planters. It came from the sand in between the bricks that the ants like to bring up when they make their homes. In the corner where her fence met her neighbors fence she found that there was a tumbleweed. She hated the things. When her house was built there was nothing between it and the prairie. The winter winds that came down from the mountains and across the prairie would bring with them “tumbleweed storms”. There were so many tumbleweeds that they piled up as high as the house’s eves. One day as her son, who was in first grade at the time, watched them fill the backyard he began calling them his “friends” and made a game of naming them as they bounced and whirled by. When Miriam looked at this tumbleweed she thought of how tumbleweeds were like problems and problem people; prickly, unwanted, hard to get rid of, and never welcomed. She decided to name this tumbleweed “Joe”, picked it up gingerly as if it would bite and carried it to the trash can. “Rest in peace” she said as she put the lid back down and headed back to the faucet. “Joe”, the tumbleweed, was exactly where he belonged.

The hose was cool, where she held it with her hand, from the water as it made its way to the planter. She marveled once again how a plant can push its way up through the soil as she let the water gently splash unto the seedlings. Miriam had given her plants some Miracle Grow plant food the day before and they seem to really have enjoyed that meal. They were growing well. The Catalpa tree had large green seed pods hanging down already planning for the next year. She sat back down on her garden bench and sighed. A vision of the little seedlings filled her mind and she made a promise to do what they do; reach for the sun, the sky and the rain and just live. (And remember to throw away her problems, the "tumbleweeds", too.)

helium
November 12th, 2011, 07:44 AM
I guess that was interesting, not really sure how to feel about the story. Did it end or is this part of a novel? But I found it confusing that the husband would take the blame for someone else, doesnt make sense for anyone to do that. And naming the tumbleweed "Joe" and throwing it out seems heartless. She could actually do something about him instead of trashing a tumble weed

L Marrick
November 14th, 2011, 07:59 PM
I was also confused about why her husband got blamed. The whole paragraph is deriding Joe, and then "... So when the paperwork issue came up, he blamed it on Miriam's husband and Miriam's husband lost her job." That doesn't seem to follow the thought progression in the paragraph. We have no reason to think that management favors Joe over the husband. Also, it hasn't been my experience that bullies cower when confronted.

This piece is thoughtful, but a little ambling. I'm not sure what to feel for Miriam. Should I, too, be thrilled because morning glory leaves are shaped like hearts (why the need for all caps, there?)

nerot
November 14th, 2011, 09:05 PM
You are both right. This is really vague. That is why it pays to have someone else read what I write.

River
November 23rd, 2011, 11:58 AM
I sense an outline for a story in the piece if you can bring it out whatever it is you want the story to be about. In any story you need a hook on the first page or two, otherwise you lose your audience.

I like Miriam, she has been married twenty years, her husband has lost his job and she has arthritis.

Maybe you could start the story off something like this.

Miriam winced at the pain in her left hip, she was only 42, but she had all the symptoms of the onset of early arthritis.

As she and her husband Rick sat in their “his and her” recliners he said to her, “I turned in that piece of paperwork. I gave it to Joe.”
They just looked at each other with nothing to say. After twenty years of marriage they knew each other well enough to know what the other was thinking and they knew Joe. He had been with the company for thirteen years; his longevity was by default not merit. He fancied himself as the boss, harassed and harangued the other drivers over the CB and bad mouthed them behind their backs. If he had a backbone, it would be yellow, and like any bully he cowered and whimpered as soon as someone confronted him. Then he moved on to the next likely target. None of the drivers had any use for him. He had been walking on thin ice with the company since it was discovered that he had been padding his hours.
He had slipped bad paper work into Rick’s rig and he had lost his job over it.

“What are we going to do Rick? The house payments are three months behind already.”

The economy hadn’t been kind to them this year, the trucking industry had been slow and the fuel was high.

They both loved the Nevada desert although the North winds brought the tumble weeds in the fall and piled them to the roof on the house.
They had both sacrificed to by the acreage adjacent to the Colorado river and they both loved the solitude and the quiet.

“I’m going into town tomorrow and face off with the bosses, although I don’t know what good it will do.”

Something like that?

nerot
November 23rd, 2011, 04:05 PM
River, thank you so much for your kind post and the wonderful suggestions. Honestly, I had been hoping that this story of mine would just slowly slip off the board. You showed me that it could be redeemed and I appreciate that.

River
November 24th, 2011, 04:32 AM
Lets say Rick goes into town to see his bosses about getting his job back but on the way across the yard among the trucks he meets Joe, they get into a fight and Joe hits Rick and kills him, now Miriam is left alone way out there with no way to fend for herself.

I know you can do this. Get into Miriam's heart and head and let her tell you where the story wants to go. Write with your heart and your fingers will just follow along. Do you think she might have a neighbor or long ago friend whom she can fall in love with and the two of them win the day together?