Writing is crazy. You can start with one idea in your head, and suddenly the muse takes you somewhere else completely. Somewhere you may not have even wanted to venture, but maybe she knew better.
My initial intent was to take this photo of my father and turn him into a fictional character, but instead I ended up in the shoes I’ve always had trouble putting myself into – my mom’s. And so, while definitely not award-winning prose, it did stream from the unconscious and therefore is part of my Writing Life…
Flurries had hours ago turned into white daggers, and for once she was grateful for the slight hunch his eighty-plus year-old body bequeathed him, the snow pelting him from above and behind.
She watched him walked carefully, surely cursing himself for leaving his work boots inside on the carpet remnant in front of the fireplace. These shoes were thin-soled and intended for dance floors and office workdays, not crossing the ice-covered driveway. The newspaper he had risked his life to go buy was hanging down from his hand, but dry, covered in plastic thanks to the girl at the mini-market down the road.
Something in her stirred, and she grabbed the camera off the built-in desk by the front door, walked back over to the large living room window and pulled back the sheer curtains, snapping this picture. Later, it would be the picture that her daughter said best showed the man who he was. A photo that would forever capture her space cowboy.
Fierceness was a trait he carried with him through the war, working in the oil fields, then in the space program and here on the ranch. Strength was what he gave her and she didn’t dare think of a time when he wouldn’t be there. She loved him with everything she had in her. And he understood that she didn’t have the skills to articulate that love – but it was there, with every pill she made sure he took on time, and every time she turned up the television so he could hear the news. What others would never understand about her, he did.
Today, sitting in the front pew, she thought how fitting it was that this was the picture that the slide show got stuck on. She heard murmurs around her, an uncomfortable moment where the mourners who had gathered didn’t know what to do. And while tears fell down the faces of her son and daughter, she could only look up and smile at the screen behind the altar. She smiled and remembered him that day – standing on the porch, brushing off the snow from his coat before he came inside and kicked off those loafers.
“What were you thinking going out like that without your boots?” she snapped at him, taking his hand and pulling him to her so she could hug his cold away.
He slowly pulled away from her embrace but stretched out his hand to her, which she took. He gently stepped into her and they began to dance to a tune that played only in their shared thoughts.
She felt the gentle poke in her side, and turned towards her daughter who was saying something to her. She stopped humming and put away the smile that wasn’t at all befitting to a grieving widow. Looking up, the slideshow moved on and now she would need to figure out a way to do the same.