The Salad Bar

The Herald, September 2014

Friday evening my girlfriends and I decide to go to the Buffet Station and then to a movie. The Station has the most wonderful salad bar, and we are all on diets, as usual.

We meet in the parking lot of the restaurant at six. Table for five we all exclaim in unison. We announce to the waitress that we are having the $5.95 salad bar special.

Leaving our jackets behind, we head toward the glass-domed case. I grab a plate and dig to the bottom of the organic mix of greens. The bottom is always the freshest since they pour the older greens on top of the newer bowl. The selections are tremendous! I top my mescal mix with everything. Fresh mushrooms and peppers. Scallions, chickpeas and tomatoes. Hard-boiled egg crumbles and black olives. Sunflower seeds, cucumbers and chopped celery. Shaved carrots with raisins. Cheddar, Swiss and feta.

Tofu cubes and green and red grapes.

As we make our way down the endless stainless canisters of garden delights we gab. We gab about how beautiful our salads look. How healthy and diet-conscious we are. We pass of course the ham, pepperoni and bacon. That would be much too fattening!

At the end of the table we find the dressings. Italian. Russian. French. Blue cheese. Caesar. Ranch. Vinegar and oil.

I stare across the sea of dressings and make my decision. Lifting the small ladle I start to spoon. One. Two. Three. Four ladles of Blue Cheese. Yes, I know it is the most fattening of them all. But, what the heck, I didn’t take the bacon bits!

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The Reunion

The Herald, August 2015

How did the frost get so thick on the window pane? As if it accumulated over the years without ever thawing. I gaze out through the crystals. Out over the pasture, far across the fields and back to a time when the frost hadn’t settled yet.

The warmth of the days and the sunny smiles of youth. Freely skipping and dancing: carefree, young, and without a care. He held my hand and lightly brushed it against his lips. The warmth filled my soul and tingled from the base of my spine outward to all my body. We laughed and talked of the important things in life and pondered God’s plan for us.

As the sun began to set and turn the summery greens into the crisp, deep palate of fall; his hand slowly slipped from mine and his smile became a soft memory. With the passing of the leaves, and of time, frolicking in the pasture dwindled away. A hollowness left me wanting.

Now, I close my eyes and try hard to remember. Life appears so far away, so long ago. Opening them only to see the wintery flakes begin to settle where I once danced. Across the field a trickle of smoke lifted from a chimney as a hawk floated and glided in and out of the smoky swirls. The frost on the pane is getting thicker now. I pull up a chair and sit, my feeble bones sinking deeper into the velvety cushion. As I begin to pass from this world into the next; I smile and open my hand as I close my eyes. I once again feel him take hold of mine and gently brush his lips against my hand. Our spirits unite. The frost melts away and I know I will suffer the lonely cold no more.

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Summer’s Crest

The Herald, September 2015

Summer is drawing to a close. The mornings are darker as the evenings are longer. The long awaited rains have come. As the curtain opens, I sit in awe. The smell of the wet soil fills my nostrils. The lonely deepened colors of the leaves, in all their shades of green, gold and rust. The soft cloud covered gray sky brings a crisp clarity to the outline of every leaf, of every line and knot in each tree, and to each pebble that makes up the paths.

It is a scrumptious palate brought to life by the melodic tune of the rain. Each drop travelling down the deciduous canopy, swollen with leaves. It is nature’s xylophone, each leaf making a unique sound. Resonating together to orchestrate the song of a late summer rain. A quick clash of the cymbals and the boom of the bass drum command the skies to open up for the final performance. The overture has begun. The masterful downpour is wickedly exciting. Holding my breath until the last clash. All goes silent, but just for a moment.

The soft voice of a Wren begins to sing. The baritone of a tree frog joins her, and their minuet commences. Soft and melodic, truly the calm after the storm. The final encore. The gently falling leaves of the applauding trees provide satisfaction for all. A perfect performance, I sigh in satisfaction.

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The Everlasting Choice

The Herald, June 2015

Abby floated effortlessly away from her body. As she gazed back, she could see her body stiffening. She thought how she looked cold and lifeless, yet she felt warm and alive. Is this what death felt like? As she ascended through the soft billowy clouds a gate in the distance came in view. Slowly, but steadily, she was carried toward this Golden Gate. There were moments where she felt like she was swimming through a blue ocean sky and moments where she just glazed over the icing of clouds.

As she approached the gate, she was able to focus on the line of people waiting. Drawing nearer, her legs straightened and she found herself standing. Unable, and not wanting, to speak she took her place in the line. One by one they approached the gate. The Gate Master quietly spoke to each one. After a moment or two the person walked to a long bench and sat down. Every so often, one person would nod their head and instead of going to the bench, they would vanish in a smoky haze. Abby nervously approached the Gate Master. Like a statue, he stood tall and majestic. His aura was serene and he emanated a calming presence.

He bent toward Abby and gently asked, “Do you want to be reborn? You can have three minutes to decide.”

She now understood. Those would nodded yes were immediately returned to Earth. Abby smiled graciously and moved toward the bench. What a tough decision she was faced with. She thought back over her life. She had a great life until the car accident. She was only thirty-two, yet she felt she had lived a full life. What a wonderful upbringing she had. She adored her parents and her brothers. What would happen if she were reborn? Would she then have a new family or maybe none at all? Would she be rich or poor? Would there be abuse and misery? She didn’t know. She knew there were no promises.

Nevertheless, if she decided not to be reborn, what would be her outcome then? She reflected back on her life again. She saw all her friends in her church. She felt her faith in God, the faith that had carried her through her thirty-two years. She reviewed her errors, her faults and her indiscretions. She recalled how each time she faltered she had always prevailed because of her faith. She knew God never let her walk alone. She glanced down the bench. She observed all the way down to the far end. She could see an angel like figure addressing them one by one. Some disappeared in the same smoky haze as before. They had chosen to be reborn, she presumed. A white shadowy silhouette escorted the others, some to the right and some to the left. Was one direction Heaven and the other hell? She did not know.

Abby felt herself moving down the long bench as those ahead of her made their decision. She was confused. She turned to speak to the one beside her but found she was unable to utter a sound. Again, she rekindled the memories of her life. Remembering those she cared for, those she helped and guided. Before she could think anymore it was her turn. She was at the end of the line, the end of the bench. She was approached by who she could now see was an Angel.

“Do you want to be reborn?” the Angel asked her softly.

Abby hesitated only for a brief moment and then smiled. “No,” she replied.

The Angel smiled back at her and motioned to another Seraph who escorted her to the right. As she passed through the towering golden arches of the gates she grinned with pleasure. She could feel the small bud like wings begin to sprout from the center of back. She saw others with wings. As she ambled she was stripped of her bloody garments and clothed in a long white robe. It flowed as she stepped. A lovely golden rope belt draped her waist with tassels that hung down by her knees. As she glanced around she felt at home. She knew where she was. Her heart filled with joy and contentment. Her Angel led her silently toward an immense throne.

She knelt at the foot of the throne and with and overwhelming joy whispered, “Father.”

The Lord reached down and gently brushed her cheek with his hand as he spoke, “Welcome, my child; welcome home.” Abby bowed her head and sighed. She knew she had made the right choice. She had been reborn.

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The Hair Cut

I sit waiting. Shaggy and unpruned. Like a country rose bush gone wild. Daily morning ritual of mousse in hand trying desperately to tame the tresses. Curling iron. Flat iron. Blow dryer. Each one in command of the mess. Each one trying to control and create a pleasing look. Each one failing. Failing not on their own merits, but on the lack of a good subject. No style. No texture. Too short. Too long.

I sit waiting. Ripped out page in hand. Can my mop top be transformed into this shiny professional beauty? Can I look like her? Can I take off ten years? Will my whole life be changed with this new style?

I sit waiting. Fidgeting in my seat. I contemplate. I know the advertisement has

disillusioned me, like countless others. Better life…more friends…more confidence…more appeal… All with one amazing product, one article of clothing, or one hairstyle. I know the reality, but I have hopes.

I sit waiting. I eagerly jump to the sound of my name. I saunter to the chair as I exclaim, “Just a quarter inch trim, please,” as I crumble my picture and stuff it in my purse. My fears laugh at me as I think, ‘Foiled again!’ Maybe next time.

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The Diet

The Herald, June 2014

As I lay in bed I plan and plot for the next day.

What I would eat, what I would avoid.

How many pounds would I miraculously melt away?

Rice cakes.

Those crunchy glued cardboard rounds.

Yogurt and wheat germ.

A cracker or two and a handful of raisins.

A tablespoon of tuna.

A palm sized piece of chicken (the palm of a small child).

I lay my head down and smile.

“I will do this; I will do this,” I chant as I drift off to sleep.

Dreams of monster cakes filled with decadent creams.

 

Éclairs, with skinny little legs are chasing me down.

I trip over a cupcake and fall face down in the river.

I swallow mouthfuls of creamy fudge as my middle expands.

I try to get up but the gooey chocolate sucks me in deeper.

All too soon I awake to the buzz of the alarm.

With a gnawing emptiness inside I greet the day.

I shower.

I dress.

I venture off to work with my little lunch bag I had

packed last night.

I reach in and grab a rice cake.

The flat, lifeless taste leaves me wanting.

I plop myself down at my desk and immediately I am

struck by the sweet aroma of donuts.

I wave ‘no’ as my colleague offers me the

scrumptious sprinkled delight.

“Don’t tempt me,” I exclaim, “I am on a diet.”

A saddened hush comes over the office.

My belly breaks the silence with a long, low growl.

A speck of tuna – barely three mouthfuls.

The salty crunch of a celery stick, and another rice cake.

I toss a few raisins in my mouth for desert and head

 

back to work.

I feel the pity of my co-workers as they try to shield me

from their fat laden lunches.

As the clock strikes five, I decide to join my peers at

Happy Hour.

One white wine spritzer won’t hurt, I convince myself.

I am only going for the camaraderie. Really!

As I park my car I glance in the rear view window.

I promise myself again, “Only one and then home.”

I join my crew and with a smile order my spritzer.

Oh, what luck! It is two-fer Tuesday!

As the bartender hands me both glasses I try to

convince myself they are small glasses.

I sit back and take a sip. Ummm.

A calming effect takes over me.

Out of the corner of my eye I watch the waiters bring

out the happy hour delights.

Myself and I talked me into walking over to the massive

spread ‘just to see’ what was on the menu.

I took a deep breath.

When I came to I was licking sauce off my fingers.

I glanced down to see a small mountain of empty clam shells,

 

a pile of chicken wing bones and remnants of meatballs.

All amidst an array of sauces.

My mind cried out “What have I done?”

The smell of real food had sent me into a blackout

where I devoured platefuls of food.

Delicious, delectable, and devilishly fatty foods.

Like a piranha I had whittled it all down to the bones and shells.

I had oinked through it all.

I caught my image in the mirror and quickly turned away in shame.

I was part of a feeding frenzy not unlike a pack of wild dogs.

In anguish I quickly finished what looked like my fourth spritzer.

I sheepishly bid farewell to my comrades.

Unaware of my blackout binge, the sent me off with smiles.

Bloated and remorseful I made it home.

I changed and brushed my teeth.

I got in bed early.

Foiled again!

As I lay in bed,

I plotted and planned.

What foods I would eat and what I would avoid.

The vicious cycle continues.

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Shopping

The Herald, July 2014

        It was a blah type of day. Nothing in particular was wrong. No one said anything or did anything to put me in a mood. I guess I just woke up this way. In a blah mood. The girls at work are in a cheery mood and it is not one of those crazy, hectic days. I slept pretty well and I am not tired. I’m just in a blah mood. The girls are going out to eat today, but I think I am just going to grab a burger at the snack shop. Don’t feel much like gossiping today. It must be my blah mood.

        Ten to twelve. Well, I might as well go eat. I got to my car and all of a sudden it went into autopilot! Instead of the snack shop, I found myself heading to the strip mall. For some reason I couldn’t turn the wheel away from the entrance. As I pulled up in front of the Ladies Apparel III store, my eyes were fixated on the huge red sale sign. What a beautiful sign. It beckoned me to go inside.

        I opened one of the large double doors and stepped inside. My eyes darted left, then right. Which way should I go? I headed toward the ‘end of season’ area but quickly turned at the purple sweater. Ahh, the new fall line. So soft. So deeply rich in color. Transformation. My blah mood was lifting. I caressed the soft knit imaging it against my body. I just had to have it. My mind scanned the balances on my credit cards like a super computer. Click, there was one with room to spend.

        I found my size and clenched the hanger in my hand. I could feel the compelling draw from the shoe department. Hypnotized by the smell of nubuck leather I entered. Soft suede booties in the same deep purple of my treasured sweater. Is this a dream? What a perfect match! It was like e-harmony in a shoebox. I was in love.

        As I drifted toward the cashier, my mind paired my finds with a lovely pair of cream pants I had at home. I nodded and smiled as my coworkers cast admiring glances at me as I strolled the office runway. Yes the blahs have left. I left them in the parking lot of the mall. Burger? I am not even hungry any longer.

        My inner soul is full on my purchases. Truly satisfied I am. I sign my slip and stuff it in my wallet.

        With a skip in my step I head back to my car. Back to work. Oh, the miracle of shopping!

 

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