Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ah, Bach

                   Karen heard music drifting up from the church basement. It wasn't Mrs. McCardle practicing today. The church organist played piano accurately and deliberately. There was no love in Mrs. McCardle's playing―music was just a job to her. Whoever was playing the Bach prelude, was playing with passion and devotion. The music sounded like praying.
                   Karen waited in the stairwell until it was quiet.  The piece was so lovely, she half expected to hear applause when it was over. Instead, it ended in an awkward, naked  silence.
                   She pushed the old metal fire door open. Danny was sitting at the battered spinet.
                   “That was you?” 
                   “Is it already 10:00?” he asked checking his watch to cover his discomfort. Karen had offered to help set up the hall for a CYO dance.
                   “I'm a little early. Sorry.  I had no idea you played.”
                   “My mother made me take lessons.”
                   “I don't remember that.”
                   Danny blushed slightly, “I used to carry a pair of boxing gloves with me when I went. I let the neighborhood kids believe I was training. I knew they'd give me a hard time.”
                   “Did you tell her you wanted to quit?”
                   “I didn't want to quit. I just didn't want to get beat up. I loved piano. It took me out of that neighborhood, you know?”
                   Karen nodded.
                   “Did you ever play professionally?”
                   “I don't like to play for other people. The only person I ever played for was Mum and she's gone.”
                   “When did she die Danny?”
                   “While I was away at seminary.”
                   “That's when my mother died too. Do you think it's easier to lose someone when you're religious?”
                   “No. Knowing that someone has gone someplace good doesn't make them any less gone.”
                   He put his hands on the keys.
                   “This was her favorite,” he said as he began to play. This time, the music sounded like a confession.

                   If you're interested in reading more about Karen, she has her own page on this blog. You can check it out here. The title of this story comes from an old episode of MASH. I'm linking up this week with Write on Edge and Trifecta. Trifecta gave us the word "deliberate" for inspiration. Write on Edge gave us the word "orphan" and this picture:
This image courtesy of F3D3.86 via Flickr Creative Commons


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

100 Word Song: A Good Feeling

           Charlotte had been observing ghosts for years—watching their memories like a silent film. But today they spoke to her. Filled with the euphoria of purpose and belonging, she walked the hotel grounds as the sunlight dissolved the mist. The once manicured gardens were now a jungle of rhodedendron and tall grasses. It would be be easy to be discouraged by the monumental task of refurbishing the old hotel, but she felt good about it. A bird lighted on a wild rose bush and made eye contact with Charlotte. He tilted his head, twittered his approval, and soared into the sky.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

           I'm linking up with the 100 Word Song prompt over at my friend Lance's place. Our inspiration for the week is the incomparable Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good”. If you like reading about Charlotte, check out her page here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's Probably Nothing, Part 2

           Monday afternoon my phone buzzed while I was at work. We aren't allowed to use cell phones on the sales floor, so I normally just return calls on my break. This time, I could tell the number was coming from my health care group. The week before, I had an unpleasant three day game of telephone tag with my primary care physician, so I rushed off the floor to take the call.
           “May I speak to Victoria?” the caller said.
           “This is she,” I replied.
           “I'm calling to remind you about your biopsy on Wednesday at 9:00.”
           “Yup,” I said. “I'll be there.”
           As if I could forget. As if I had been thinking about anything else. Lately, I've been more distracted by breasts more than a fourteen year old boy. My mind is not where it's supposed to be.
Last week in my rush to get dinner on the table between the boys' music lessons and Boy Scouts. I accidentally shut the oven off twenty minutes after I put dinner in the oven. The chicken takes forty minutes to cook. Fortunately, I realized my mistake before I served Salmonella Cordon Bleu to my family.
           Thursday night I came home from working the night shift. The sports bra I had worn to work seemed unusually uncomfortable. I chalked it up to being preoccupied with the upcoming biopsy. Upon closer inspection, I realized my bra was on backwards. It's been that kind of week.
           It's also been the kind of week that has made me extraordinarily grateful.
          After I was told I needed a biopsy, I prayed for my health. I pray pretty regularly. Mostly prayers of gratitude for the blessings in my life—my husband, children, extended family and friends. I often find myself praying for situations in the world or of friends who are going through a tough time. Sometimes I pray for strangers—like the customer who told me her husband was just diagnosed with bone cancer. In the darkness of my bedroom that night, I couldn't remember the last time I prayed for myself. And that lead to even more prayers of gratitude.
           Wednesday was the day of my biopsy. I had a great friend with me—one smart enough to tell me she was coming with me instead of asking if I wanted her. There were texts and messages of encouragement throughout the day. By the time I was in the ultrasound room I was pretty calm and together. The radiologist had told me I would feel some pressure, but no pain. The last time a doctor told me that it was a big, fat, lie. This time however, the only thing I felt was a small pinch from the novocaine needle. The biopsy itself only took a few minutes.
           An hour later, I was sitting in my favorite diner with an icepack in my bra eating the most fattening breakfast they had on the menu. I ate every bite. Calories don't count on biopsy day.
Most of the discomfort is gone now and the waiting for results begins. I should know something by Tuesday or Wednesday. So far, I've managed to keep the “what ifs” at bay and concentrate on the things I know:
  • I have loads of people pulling for me and praying for me—some I've never met in person (thank you blogging community!).
  • The medical professionals I've dealt with lately are wonderful—including a PCP who went out of his way to get in touch with me (when he wasn't even on call) to make sure I made an appointment for my biopsy.
  • Mammogram techs have heard every boob joke ever uttered. But they will laugh at them anyway, just to make you feel better.
  • The sound of my boys' laughter is therapeutic and their hugs can work magic.
  • My friends have given me support, laughter, and bourbon to get through this.
  • Twenty-something years ago I met a cute guy at a keg party. He turned out to be the love of my life. His calm strength have helped me through tough times before and will continue no matter what the results of this biopsy are.
  • Besides, it's probably nothing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Karen: Bad Blood

           Karen sat on the curb by the service entrance of the country club watching cherry blossom petals rain onto the pavement. She was the first to arrive every shift. Tony hinted at a promotion and a key of her own once she earned the owners' trust. She wondered when arriving early, staying late, and working her fingers raw would be rewarded. She pushed aside the thought and admired the sunlight breaking through the fog on the golf course.
           “Good morning Karen,” called Charles, the co-owner and banquet manager of the club. “Early as usual!”
           She stowed her purse and began setting up the coffee urns. Tony strolled in a few minutes later and began setting up chairs.
           “Karen, can you grab the bin of white tablecloths when you're done with that?” Tony asked.
           “No problem Tony.”
           Karen finished her task and headed for the storeroom. She heard Charles arguing with John, the other owner and slowed down when she heard her name mentioned.
           “I'm not giving Karen a key,” John said.
           “Why not? She works harder than anyone else. She's always early. She's willing to stay late. The members lover her. Why not let her move up?”
           “She's a good worker. But I knew Edmond O'Brien for years. He was a weasel from the moment he took a breath.”
           “John, Karen wasn't raised by Eddie. He walked out on her and her mom years ago.”
           “Then Peggy drank herself to death! Blood will out. Karen's blood is tainted by liars, cheats, and drunks. I won't have her holding a key to my club.”
           “Our club.”
           “Fine. Our club. I gave in when Tony wanted to hire her. But I draw the line at giving an O'Brien a key to my livelihood.”
           Karen picked up the bin of tablecloths and returned to the dining room.
           “You alright Karen? Tony asked. “You look like you've seen a ghost.”
           “Something like that.”

I'm linking up this week with Trifecta, who gave us the word “blood” for inspiration and Write at the Merge who gave us a photograph of a flowering tree and a quote from REM. You can read more of Karen's story here.