Thursday, December 24, 2015

Free Falling in the Season

To explain the title: By "free fall" I mean my "free fall Fridays" group where we write with gusto, without editing or stopping, all from the same "prompt." By "season" I mean not only Christmas but a winter of things passing on.

Today I have three recent free fall pieces to share: two are light and one is pretty.

I was supposed to post this morning but I forget. My excuse: 'Tis the season.

The prompt was the cover picture of this week's Swerve magazine that had to males glaring at each other, one with an old Japanese hair style, with a tiny Christmas tree at the bottom.

You can forget any notions of the serene mysterious east. The only mystery to me was how Mr. Oki could throw out so many beer bottles every week without getting fat. Maybe it’s his Japanese genes. Anyways, he was no serene geisha boy. More like a samurai gargoyle.

Yes, he looked like a gargoyle, perched on his little roof balcony and drinking at all hours of the night and day. At least he got lots of fresh air. So did I, as I was a smoker, and my little self-discipline, my little joy, my little game, was that I never smoked in my house.
So I’d be on the ground, silently smoking, and he’d be up high, silently drinking, and you would think we’d be as serene as two birds on two stumps. Nope.

I loved flicking my butts with a good wrist motion, and springy fingers, to see how far they’d go. I called it following "the way" of butt flicking, for whatever spiritual benefits following "the way" would entail. Of course I always flicked at Mr. Oki’s house. I felt entitled. Do you know what he did? Now, I don’t know how far his bathroom was from the roof, and I admit that I’ve taken advantage of the cover of darkness myself, but—why did he have to follow "the way" of the urine stream?When he already had a height advantage? And he always peed towards my house. And sometimes when I stepped outside I never turned on the light because I am coordinated enough to smoke in the dark. It’s easy. Unless somebody tries to pee on my burning ember.

I never wanted to give Mr. Oki the satisfaction of hearing my strangled gasp, or quiet curses. I mean, come on, some misfortunes I just don’t want to broadcast.

One day we met in public where of course he couldn’t drink, in a place where I didn’t dare smoke: the lot for selling Christmas trees. We both had thoughts of the tree sitting on the line between our houses, so we just glared at each other: no burning down the tree, no peeing beer on it’s branches—glare!

prompt- something cheery

The opposite of cheery is when I mistakenly think I’ve found a Christmas music radio station. And then I waste my time for days before realizing: No exaltation, no joyful and triumphant, no sing all ye citizens… because the station is secular only. Not a single carol! What a waste of my time, besides making me tired of the old standbys.

No, cheery is when I can play God Bless you merry gentlemen (from the ending of Three Days of the Condor) or Silent Night (from the beginning of a Disney western movie) or Joy to the World. You never get tired of the REAL classics… not unless some celebrity tries to sing them with too much stupid originality.
Sometimes, I swear, before I want to hear Dean Martin croon again I’d rather hear Jeremiah croaking like a bullfrog: "Joyyy to the word, allll the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me."

No, you can keep your originality. Give me a plain children’s classroom singing, every time.

prompt- an old photograph

My mother once lived in the arbalest nursing home, in the longbow valley. It’s a nice valley with khaki colored grass, and sagebrush, sage hens, and lazy rolling tumbleweeds. On mainstreet the weeds roll on Sundays.

It was Sunday afternoon and I was high on the hillside. Do you know the word glen? It means a narrow valley, and that was the longbow. No doubt from the glaciers or something. My mother was the first white woman in the valley. Now there is an airport and a paved road and they’ve even heard of us in Saskatoon.

It was a sunny cold day, with a gentle breeze, and I was looking down on the old collection of buildings. The oldest was gone, the second oldest was now a parking lot, and the one my mother lived in, white and shiny in the distance, was still there. I used to walk to see her after church. Now I would walk on the hill trail, but no more for this year. The wind was too cold for me: When you’re old, your bones get cold. 

I found an old log bench: polished, varnished and nailed down. I sat. The grass blew like the timeless sea and I half meditated, half thought. My mother, and everybody else, would have pooh hoo-ed the idea of me pushing her way up the hill for the view. But maybe I should have.
And maybe, in my mind’s photo-album, I should have deleted all the bad photos and kept only the good. Or put the photos between plastic sleeves of forgiveness. A Roman once asked, “What is truth?” I don’t know. The wind blows cold and I don’t know.

From my wallet—of telflon weave and Velcro closure—I looked at an old photo. My mother was impossibly young, and impossibly optimistic, with a big smile. All the world’s an album, and we all play many photos. I stood up. Now to walk downhill, knees creaking. I would not be back this year.

Sean Crawford
December, 2015
We sure have fun at Freefall Fridays. Our last meeting was the 18th, we can't meet again until Jan 8 (because of holidays on Fridays) so we are going to unlock the building on Wednesday the 30th just for us. We simply can't go three weeks without meeting.

I just have to laugh. After we furiously write our short pieces we go around reading aloud. After my Christmas carol one people started clapping. Before I could get too puffed up with pride at how they loved my awesome, deathless, pretty little prose... Margaret looked at me and said, "We're clapping for your singing." … Yes, I can sing like a good bullfrog.

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