Stale donuts from the bakery

file661267495258She loaded the children into the shiny Lincoln and drove down the tree studded drive to the highway. Every Saturday, the mother watched from the window as her aunt took brother and sister to the bakery. The donut run, as the mother called it, never failed to bring joy to her children.

When they returned, the eccentric aunt  set the bag filled with soft, warm donuts on the counter next to last Saturday’s bag. It was a simple rule. You eat the old donuts before getting into the new bag.

Knowing that they would never experience the taste of the fresh donuts, how many Saturdays before the children’s joy faded? It had been seven months since the spinster aunt invited them to move in and the children were as enthused as the first time.

“What is so great going to get donuts knowing they will be hard as a rock before you eat them?”

“It’s not eating the donut, it’s imagining how it tastes,” said one. “It’s like going to the dog pound even though you can’t bring one home,” said another.

“They are beautiful. Covered in frosting–pink, white, chocolate, sprinkles, dusted in powdered sugar, filled with jelly–different shapes and sizes.”

“It’s hard to choose.”

“So Auntie let’s us take all the time we want.”

“But,” the mother said, “you always bring back a dozen plain cake donuts.”

“That’s what Auntie orders. We eat ours at the donut shop.”

A smile spread across the mother’s dampened cheeks.

What lessons, if any, have you learned from children?  Please share comments below in Leave Reply.

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Cowboy

file2251249256861cowboySome said he was born on a saddle. Others said he was one hell of a man. Didn’t matter what you believed, he was an authentic cowboy and wore the title well.

One night he cleaned off the dust, slipped into his best shirt, new Levis, and drove to a dance in the valley. A fiery redhead caught his eye, and his mind entertained thoughts other than lonely nights in the bunk house.

Having learned responsibility at a tender age, he secured a regular job. One that allowed him to take an active part in family life.

This didn’t take the cowboy out of him. He never missed saddling up for a round-up, branding, or any event to help a local rancher. He signed on to a ranch after retirement. His wife, known for her biscuits, pies, and any dish that cowboys had a likening, went with him.

Life of a cowboy isn’t an easy one. You take the lumps with the good, he used to say. He didn’t regret one bit, and lived life to the fullest.

Those who knew him never doubted he was a believer. His God lived in the outdoors–the plains, sagebrush, painted desert. Mountains, green pastures, and the beauty of horses working cattle. He never spent much time inside a church other than attending a wedding, or funeral. It made sense that his funeral was held in the local community lodge.

The minister stepped away from the podium and strapped on a guitar. There wasn’t a dry eye as he sang the cowboy’s favorite song.

Now, his wife lives in the house by herself, but few doubt that she’s alone.

Is there an unforgettable character in your life? Your comments are welcome and appreciated. Please comment below.

Losing the will to survive

giving up cellar_door_films

He wavered as he walked down the sidewalk clutching the brown-wrapped bottle against his stomach. Two more, you can make it two more blocks, legs. He looked down at the bottle and imagined the taste, the feel of the amber liquid sliding down his throat, into his stomach, veins, bringing relief to each cell of his body.

Numbing his mind, that’s what he needed most of all.

He looked at the guitar, it’s shiny finish dulled with years of dust. It brought back memories of a life that was no longer his. Friends, wives, children, jobs. Memories that stabbed his heart.

No knocking at his door, not even those toting Bibles. He understood. He stopped liking himself years ago. Stopped liking life itself the past year, or was it longer. It didn’t much matter, he had given up. Overwhelmed by it all. Ready to quit. One day, he wouldn’t get up from the old sofa the boys across the street had carried into his house when their family moved it to the trash.

Trash, that’s all he would be.

There was something about that bottle handed to him each morning all wrapped and ready the minute he entered.

The liquor store lady will miss him.

Photo: Giving Up by Cellar_door_films

Do you know someone who gave up? How can we help those who become overwhelmed with life, or can we? Comments are welcome.

The Missing Character

Family

Born at the turn of the century from hard working good people. Dropped out of school at age nine to care for younger siblings. Calloused hands and bent fingers told a story of work. House, field, serving others.

Blue-gray eyes told tales beyond their years.

Raised a family of seven, and never missed a day of work. Smile creased lips belied the struggles, cries of pain, suffering deaths of children before their time.

Pin a blue ribbon, hang a gold medal. Five stars are not enough.

The missing character is my mother.

 

Do you have an unforgettable character?

Keep them strong

strong characters

It’s the fight. It’s not winning the game.

Protagonists of contemporary fiction might not win or come out on top, but they remain strong throughout the conflict. If they lose, they go down fighting.  Additional strong characters support and help the protagonist achieve victory. If not joining the fight itself, they offer compassion and empathy.

Life struggles can kick our butt no matter how hard we fight, or how tough we are. The people and objects creating the conflict are strong as well. However, the taste of victory remains until the person, place, or thing behind the struggle wins. If the protagonist fails, we know it wasn’t lack of moral fiber.

Readers identify with the main character. They identify with struggling through problems, tough times, sometimes making it, sometimes not. They rely on the strength of the character. They feel it. They need it. Many people are either undergoing personal trauma and conflict or know someone who is. They know survival requires strength. It’s fighting the fight, not giving up. Character behaviors are transferred to the reader.

Strong characters give hope. Hope that we can make it through the most basic human conditions.

Contemporary fiction addict

imageshelpingothers

I love books with screwed up characters. Characters that take the wrong road at every intersection. Down and out. Messed up people living horrible lives. Characters that fight to get out of bed, then struggle to get into their trousers.

Why?

They make me feel normal.

They fall, come close to giving up. Life slaps them in the face. I feel their pain. I root for them. They find someone, or some thing that struggles with them; helps them dig through the muck.

Sometimes they make it, sometimes they don’t. Doesn’t matter either way. The point is, people find company in life’s struggles. Encouragement comes knowing that someone else swims upstream through life.

I finish the book knowing that others have the same problems, or worse. That’s why I tend to root for the underdog. After all, someone should make it.