Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sometimes Marco Polo can go all wrong



Melissa contemplated the dangers of playing pool games with Sarah, the neighbour’s daughter. Was this a good idea? Should you allow a child to move willy nilly around a pool with her eyes closed? There was no point. She was trapped. There was an audience. They had all managed to escape.

She glared at the other adults lounging on the deck with their drinks and their laughter and their chatter. “Bunch of hens,” she thought. Melissa’s eyes lingered on Mark or, as she had referred to him earlier that day “Fresh meat in the neighbourhood”. She was distracted just long enough to miss that Sarah had managed to make her way close to her. Her fantasy was disturbed by a very loud “Marco” yelled in her ear.

Melissa was prepared – actually thrilled - to embrace her defeat. Melissa’s bikini top wasn’t equipped or prepared to deal with Sarah’s exuberance, Sarah’s excitement, Sarah’s grasping hands.

All the friendly chit chat ceased. Time stood still.

Melissa’s considered shielding herself with Sarah’s body and diving under water. But it would be wrong to drown the child. And it was too late. Everyone had already gotten a really good look.

With a faked casualness, Melissa tried to cover herself with her arm. She noted Mark was frozen in time. “Could you maybe… you know… toss me that towel?” Mark closed his mouth and obliged.

Melissa attempted a breezy stroll into the house. “I’ll just get changed.” Really she intended to go drink herself to death in the kitchen.

Alone in her mortification, she considered her options. Suicide. Moving from her home. Killing everyone at the party. Never leaving her house. Her plans were interrupted by the door opening.

“Tom asked me to get the buns,” Mark sheepishly explained his presence.

Melissa took his sheepishness as a good sign that he was going to be a gentleman and pretend it never happened. Mark reached behind her, his arm brushed across her shoulders. He leaned in a little closer. His lips were so excruciatingly close to her ear lobe she could feel his breath. “If you were trying to get my attention,” he whispered. “It worked.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The key to Orion's belt

My first tale is inspired by the Significant Object Project (, where writers were given small objects to compose short stories around. Unlike those stories, this one isn't fictional. Enjoy

The old key sits in a clear box in the spare bedroom closet. It has travelled with me through high school, to university and the 4 homes I've shared with my husband. It belonged to my 3 sisters and my brother before it became mine. I have no idea how old it is.

Most times I'm oblivious to its presence. Other times I look at the key and then at my hand.

The scar on my hand - actually, I guess it really counts as three scars formed at the exact same moment - they remind me of Orion's belt.

They came as a result of an ill timed connection between my roller skate and the sidewalk. Perhaps it wasn't so much the timing as it was the placement of my roller skated foot just at the point where frost had heaved up the sidewalk. The true dangers of Canadian winters.

My hand was the only casualty. I was 8 years old. I didn't cry. Fairly amazing considering I'm still someone who can cry if looked at sideways.

I've always found it odd that that the scars grew with my hand yet have faded to the point where only I can really see them. Shouldn't they have stayed the pea size appropriate for a slight 8 year old's hand?

Ah but the skates are the true star of this story. They were a marvel. Metal wheels fastened to an adjustable metal plate and held in place by medieval inspired metal clamps that squeezed into your toes when tightened by that metal key. Without that key, the skates were little more than a household hazard that could take down an adult in a simultaneously hilarious and horrifying fashion.

The whole concoction was strapped to your ankle with a piece of crumbling ancient leather. Ankle support was not a concern in the 70s.

The metal wheels barely rolled along the sidewalk. I'm surprised the friction against the concrete didn't cause a wake of sparks. Now that would have been cool despite the potential for grass fires.

The skates, naturally, were hand me downs. In 1976 roller skating was possibly the coolest activity going. Those metals antiques? Not so much. What I craved were those magnificent disco era white leather boots with the smooth rubber wheels and a rubber break at the front.

Hence came my foray into a career as a failed engineer. I spent hours trying to convert an old pair of figure skates (another hand me down) by replacing the blade with the wheels from my brother's skateboard. I never figured out how to take off the blades. Luckily I was afraid of both power tools and my father. As with most times in my life, fear likely saved me from permanent disfigurement. I gave up.

It still astonishes me that I eventually managed to convince my parents to buy me those real roller skates for Christmas. Unfortunately I was not successful in getting them to buy me satin pants and a satin jacket to go with them. Though I mourned the loss of that outfit, I was saved from the horrors of 70s fashion.

Those old skates are long gone, although I'm fairly sure my mom waited until I moved away for university to get rid of them. Then again, if I was to search the spider infested cold cellar in their house I might find an ancient pair. If there were more than one, I'd challenge my sisters to a race - something we never did as children because our childhoods didn't intersect.

For more than 30 years and for the rest of my life, I have and will continue to think of those skates when I look at my hand. And that key, well it will come with me where ever I go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An introduction

I've been writing for 15 years - or more - but rarely for art. It's been to sell someone else's stuff, for a while it was to sell my own stuff. It was always about stuff. And a lot of it has involved insurance. Just typing that is slightly depressing.

So this blog is a new indulgence. An exercise in creativity. A place where I'll share my short stories, photography and travel experiences.

I promise that I'll resist the urge to share obvious musings and rants. I say obvious because my stories may contain subliminal musings and rants.

First short story to come later this week.

Peace and Laughter.