Gold-Child’s story idea

Sarah and I hung out in the secret spot by Mommy’s rosebushes. It was time for our secret garden club. Grown-ups were too big for it. I had a little spade with a light brown handle and green shovel part. Sarah had a shiny silver one. We dug by the bushes, but not too close to them. We did’t want to kill the roses. The soft pink color they had was too pretty.

I sang a pirate song as we dug in the black dirt. I heard it on a Disney show. Disney has shows with lots of pretend stuff, like flying people and pirates and stuff.

Sarah doesn’t really watch T.V. She likes to play outside. When she comes over, that’s what we do. I tried to teach her the pirate song, but she kept forgetting parts. I sang it loud, but not too loud. Otherwise, people would hear our secret club, and try to be in it.

When Sarah was digging, she squished her brown eyebrows together. She has hair that is brown like a tree branch. It is always braided, with ribbons from the top of the braid to the bottom. Her eyes are blue and shiny. Mine are a mud and green color. My hair is the color of the top of a battery. People always tell me it’s pretty. Well, not my brother. He tells me I’m ugly and can park a car on my forehead.

I wish my mom would buy me ribbons and let me grow my hair long. She makes it as long as my shoulders. She said she isn’t dealing with my tangles in the morning.
I looked back at the grass, and wiggled the shovel a little, trying to get into deeper dirt. Sarah suddenly gave this excited kind of breath.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I found treasure!”
“Pretend treasure?”
“No, it’s real.”
“Let me see it.”
“Don’t take it, though.”
She opened her hand. Her palm was really dirty, and there were some little rocks mixed in. I saw something that looked dull, but still was some kind of jewelry.
I made my voice whisper,

“Do you think that is the secret garden treasure? Maybe we can turn it in for a reward! Or sell it for a gazillion dollars and buy lots of candy with it.”
She looked at me, and she whispered, too.
“We have to give it to other people, too. God said so.”
“I didn’t hear that in the Bible. Are you sure? Maybe he just wants us to be rich!”
“We should share, still.”
“Ok, we will sell this treasure and share the money with poor people. Oh, and poor animals, too.”
“That’s an good idea.”
I scratched a bug bite on my knee. “Yeah.”
I looked where she was digging. “Maybe if we dig more we can find more treasure.”


“Just make yourself at home,” the sarcastic comment was directed to the Golden Retriever Puppy that had taken no time to jump up and PLOP on my couch.

“I love my daughter,” I muttered,  to no one in particular.

My daughter Autumn was why I, with a phobia of furry creatures, had gotten a dog. Her best friend Sarah had moved away across the country to perpetually sunny  L.A a week ago.  Autumn needed company

Ugh.  It had been my husband, Dan’s, idea to do this.  I knew it would make Amber smile, so here we were.  The dog had no name yet.  He perched on the couch, wagging his entire back end at me, smiling.

“I’ll make a deal with you.”  His warm brown eyes seemed to absorb everything I said.  “You be low-maintenance, and I will choose to be polite to you.”

He swiped a big paw over his floppy ear, then tried to bite it as it fell back into his face.  The effort caused him to fall over sideways.  Trying to scramble up, he managed to roll onto the carpet.

“Yip!”  he scrambled to his feet, wagging his butt harder than ever.

“I see we have an understanding.”  I couldn’t resist stroking his silky head a little, then retreated to the kitchen to put newspaper down.



Out of the mouths…

One afternoon, I unlocked our door, barely dragging myself into my kitchen.  I narrowly missed smacking the overflowing garbage with my hip.   The room gave off a rotting salmon smell.  Eyes tired and burning, I tossed my purse onto it’s little shelf by the coats, and my large accordion folder on the small, round wood table.  I dropped into one of the cushioned chairs, forehead first onto the table surface.

Within half an hour, my back door slammed open, and my five-year-old, Sam,  saw me.

“You asleep, Mom?”  I squeezed my lids tight, then lifted my head and opened my eyes.  There was a smile on my face as I turned to him.

“No, kiddo, just waiting for you.”  I tousled his short brown hair as I rose.

I opened the fridge and grabbed the Sunny Delight.  There were no small juice cups anywhere in the cupboard, so I checked the dish rack.  Nope.  Of course all four were in the sink, in the dishwater I had filled to “soak” my dishes last night.  Inwardly groaning, i unplugged the drain.  The cupboard under the sink had sponges, and I retrieved one, adding a drop of Dawn to the sponge.  In seconds the cup was ready, and I filled it.

“Time for devotions,” I cheerfully announced, “Can you get the Bible out of the living room, Kid?”

He disappeared for a moment, then came back with my small study Bible.

“I want to read palms, Mommy.”  he said.

Furrowing my brows, my head shot up.

“Read palms?  Babe, God doesn’t like it if you read palms, and do astrology signs and all that.  We read that a few weeks ago.”

Now he frowned.  “But mommy, I just want to read palms.”  he was turning pages.

“Like I told you,” my tone was sharper than I wanted,”we don’t read palms.”

“Mommy, I just-”

“That’s enough of that, Sam!”  the exasperation in my voice was grating on my ears, “Just go to your room right now, so I can calm down”.

His eyebrows dropped to right above his hazel eyes, but he obeyed.

I glanced at the Bible before picking it up.  It read “Psalms.”


“Nothing a coat of PAINT won’t fix.”  Mom’s cheery tone was too bright,too sharp in contrast to the confusion that had been the last month.   Dad and her had told the kids together about the  separation. It had already been in place almost a year  without the boys knowing it was going on. Mom’s face was thinner than before, etched with deep horizontal forehead lines and a pronounced 11 between her dark, neatly tweezed eyebrows.  After the announcement, she had cut her golden brown hair up to her chin.  17 years and 7 inches of hair gone, he had heard her muttering into the bathroom mirror.

‘Yeah,’ Kevin, Sam’s older brother agreed, a stilted politeness.  His almost-black eyes and blue-black hair made him look a lot like dad when dad had been younger.

“What do you think, Sam?”his mother asked in a soft, high tone.  Sam shrugged his bony shoulders, keeping his gold-brown eyes on the floor. It appeared the worn tiled floor had been a shade of white at one time.  The yellowed dust of pollen was scattered, brought in by the small, slightly opened window over the kitchen sink. The emptiness of the house struck him in the gut, just like the acres of empty land they had passed on the way here.  He had driven by these areas hundreds of time going to town with mom, but a strange sadness had tried to suck him in at seeing trees they were felling. The displaced trees, with their echoes of life and wind dances, were replaced with a silent rust dirt.

Everything moves on, everything changes.



The draft of the aquariums’ air conditioning welcomed me and drew me in like a cooling hug. The fall day was keeping with the Indian summer that had stretched through September and showed evidence of pushing itself into October. With it being off-season and the middle of the week, there were only sparse clusters of people in various areas of the lobby. I assumed most were locals, but there was always the one obvious tourist, in the stereotypical loud flowing shirt and bermuda shorts. At odds to the light-hearted outfit were a set of mirrored aviators, pushed up on top of the head. This man wandered alone, with a small digital camera hanging around his neck.
A strange pity stabbed in my gut at seeing him alone. His thinning ashy hair and leathery face had a pair of the brightest green eyes that appeared to take in everything with sharp insight. Approaching the pool in the middle of the room, I studied the sea life that small children were allowed to handle, glancing at him as best I could. Peripheral vision didn’t catch much besides the bright orange flowers on his shirt. I edged over to a spot where I was semi-hidden, taking in the sight of him more. I noticed the left hand hanging at his side was bronze, but with a subtle scar where a wedding ring has once clung. He strolled up to an exhibit nearby, and I saw a five o’clock shadow with bits of grey and dark blonde. Under his eyes there was a puffiness that indicated either being a heavy drinker, or extreme tiredness.
A part of me wanted to approach him, and ask more of his story. A strange fear and shyness held me at bay. I wondered if when he was married, he had children. I wondered if he had worked too many hours at a job he hated, to give his kids all he could. Maybe his divorce was years of built up frustration over breaking his back and having nothing to show for it.
Maybe he wasn’t divorced at all, and his wife had died. Maybe, maybe.
As I watched, he lowered his camera, rubbing his eyes. Transfixed, I watched him head toward the exit, open the door, and turn left onto the sidewalk outside. When he was gone, the life I had tentatively constructed seemed to shatter, disappear.
The rest of the day I wandered, but couldn’t shake the image of the tourist.