The Body Shudder


Everything is so precious and
Vibrant before it loses color.
Before it goes black and white.


Now you see me as grey background
The fireworks and spangles have faded.
The breezes of expectation have drifted.


Colorless and still, my world is cold.
The pain bleeds my heart.
My mind throbs the rhythm of loss.


Blow out the air.
The deep breath is over.
Sighs ease out.
It's time to flutter.
Eyes open.
A body shudder.


When the veil lifts

When the mildew crumbles
When the wind begins to fly
The spectrum of the rainbow will be blinding.

Fall, 1999



Up For Grabs--Introduction


I had to choose one of three pictures for a story (exercise for the Children's Institute of Literature). The first involved animals behaving like human beings--known as anthropomorphism. The second picture showed children caught up in a real-life situation. I chose the third picture involving teenagers, also in a realistic setting.


The event suggested by the picture did not necessarily have to occupy the body of the story. It needed to be 500-750 words in length. The picture is of two teenagers; one boy, one girl. They are standing near a bus with a gate sign overhead. The boy is reading a letter. The girl is standing next to him with her arms in front of her, both hands holding a jacket. Two large pieces of luggage are resting at their feet. People are milling about behind them. The questions asked are:


Who is leaving--the boy, the girl, or both? Why?


What is the boy reading?


What does it say?


What might you infer about their respective moods and personalities?


Their relationship to each other?


What time of day, season of year, and geographical location are suggested by the other details in the picture?


--Dana Nelson, 4/99



Up For Grabs


My Grandpa always said you're gonna win one third of the time, you're gonna lose one third of the time; but the last third is up for grabs. I always just thought of baseball when he'd say that, but I think I've started to see it for more lately.


Like when I took the bus into town so I could see a baseball game. I had a ticket and plenty of time, but who knew some girl at the station would happen to catch my eye and ask me if I spoke French. Well, I thought she was kinda cute, but I had plans. My favorite team was in town. I had plans, you know?


But, like I said, she was cute and she seemed kinda lost. So I stopped and told her that sure, I could "parlays Fransays". Next thing I know I'm standing there holding a letter and trying to read French! Let me tell you, it was Greek to me! That, you guys, was a joke in case you missed it.



She kept trying to speak English and I was having one heck of a time trying to get a clue. All I could remember was how to say something about my pencil and book and walking to school. A lot of good that was going to do me. I could see any future as a French teacher heading toward the foul pole. But that's what happens when pretty girls talk to me in foreign languages. I get kinda tongue-tied.


I was starting to get nervous cuz time was passing and that meant I might miss the bus to the game. Why do girls always make you want to help them anyway? I was really in a jam. Ditch the girl or take a later bus? Grandpa always said (I guess you might gather that Grandpa always seemed to have something to say) never call a boy a gentleman unless you know he is one and I knew what that meant. I figured I would want help if I was in some foreign country holding onto a letter and hoping someone might help me out. I also knew a gentleman would help a lady in distress--especially a cute one. Okay, okay, like I said, I've got a soft spot for pretty members of the opposite sex.


Anyhow, I dug in (as they say in the grand ole game) and started to use lots of sign language and tried to get a hold of some useful French I might have stored in the back of my mind. Somehow we managed to figure out some of the letter and it was really kind of simple. She needed to wait at the information booth where her tour guide would meet her in about an hour or so. I was already late so what the heck. We went and had a soda while we waited. You know, she was the best darn baseball listener I ever met. I told her all about the game that Grandpa said reflects everything that's good in our country. She sat there nice and quiet and pretty as can be as I gave her a brief history of the sport. I even took a swing at the fences and got her a hot dog! We wrote down our addresses. Thank goodness that didn't need any translation.


Who knows? Maybe I'll get to France someday when I'm a famous ballplayer or maybe she'll come to see me and we'll get married and have lots of kids. Stranger things have happened; I know, Grandpa's told me about plenty of them.


I took her to the right spot and said, "are revoire" in the best accent I could muster. And then, right out of left field, she leans over and plants a big kiss on me! Whoa! Not bad! I was sure grateful to Grandpa. I felt like I had just hit a grand slam. I caught the next bus to the stadium with plenty of time to see a really great game, even though the home team beat my boys.


Now here's what I figure. I think my grandpa would have said that I was a gentleman for helping out that French girl. And as for the part that was up for grabs; let me ask you, would you complain about getting a kiss from a really cute girl who just happens to know all about the game of baseball? Me and Grandpa sure wouldn't!



Destiny at the Ballpark