Getting Out

Today I finally made it 45 miles to see one of my sister’s and was treated to yoga, a steam bath, hot tub, and a great lunch. (plus she repaired my favorite mala!)  Why did it take so long?  Well, when I got home I found out that one of our dogs had attacked another one, and taken of a chunk of his ear.  All I could think about was that it probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d been home.  The need for respite is undeniable for caregivers, especially in the case where they are handling it mostly alone.  I needed this time with my sister.  I felt like Bambi, just stumbling up after being born trying to get my “sea” legs back.  It felt like the first day at a new school, and I had to keep reminding myself not to feel guilty, that it was okay for me to be with her, that it was okay to have fun.

I don’t know how it works with other Moms who are either single and raising several children, where one or more is disabled, or are in a marriage with someone who is disabled and can’t help as much as your disabled child needs.  All I know is, this day was strange and beautiful, like I’d fallen through the rabbit hole into a wonderland of other women, potential friends, and time with one of my best friends, my sister.  Thanks Anne.  You are an angel.  Namaste’.

Bad Day Practice

One of the most frustrating aspects of having a familial tendency to depression and suicide is that you never know when it’s going to slam you.  Today, for example, all it took was hearing about a business that is probably going to fail to take me down, down, down into the black hole of negativity and put a bleak coating over the world.  Never mind that the sunshine is brilliant, that it’s a beautiful day, all the thoughts gathering in my head are dark and full of rain. (if not hail).

Two lay-off’s for my husband in the past three years, my own lay-off , a month long stay in the hospital with my son, the death of my father, the death of one of our rescue dogs, a long stay in the hospital with my husband when his lumbar spine had to be rebuilt, my own surgery, and my mother’s fall that dislocated her shoulder, after which she developed polymyalgia rheumatica.  During the same time frame, my son was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and now may have a thyroid condition – this is the non-disabled child.  My daughter probably has reactive attachment disorder and we don’t have the money for her or for any of us to get the counseling we need.  My anti-depressant medication helps some, but the bottom line is – I feel non-functional on days like this.  My daughter is home sick and she’d like some scrambled eggs – I love her so much and fear for all of my children, especially my disabled son.  If anything happens to me, what will become of him?  All of the kids right now seem to have a type of hopelessness that comes from watching your country go through the closest thing to the depression since the depression.  My 16-yr-old fears he’ll never have a job, or enough money to live on.  It’s a fear I see all around us, a fear of growing up because the outlook for adults is already bad, so why would you want to grow-up?

Breaking all the rules of blogging, this is a post for an audience of one, really.  It isn’t hopeful, isn’t packed with great suggestions on how to overcome obstacles, or work on issues.  That’s why writing is a practice.  Like everything else.  My sister said this to me the other day, “I just keep reminding myself that it’s all a practice, we just have to  keep working on it.”  I suppose that’s life – it’s a practice.  For Christians and Muslims, it’s a practice for heaven.  Hindu’s and Buddhist’s practice to get off the wheel of life, to prevent themselves from returning over and over again to this “veil of tears” as my mother calls it.  Again, I ask for feedback – how do you pull yourself up when you’ve gone down the rabbit hole into “hell”?    Healthy feedback would be the most appreciated – I’ve already tried all the self-destructive methods. (no offense to anyone who might want to offer numbing options)  I would love to hear from anyone who actually reads this, and I would like to recommend (highly) a blog by Leah Peterson, who has so many achievements and awards that you just have to go to her site yourself to read about them.  It’s www.leahpeah.com  and she has worked with some of the top names in the film industry.

Especially on a bad day, it’s a great blog to take a peek at.  Leah has my deep admiration and respect for transforming what must have been an especially traumatic childhood and life.  (her practice, her issues)  Read what she has to say – and as Tiny Tim says, “God Bless us, every one.”

Romance

My Father was an incurable romantic.  I miss him so much.  None of the “negative” stuff matters when the person is gone from your life forever.  My Dad would remember the smallest thing my Mom mentioned she liked, and he would get it for her as a present.  He would cry when he heard certain songs, when he witnessed suffering he couldn’t heal, and he loved life and lived it with zeal.  Of course he wasn’t perfect – who is?  I buy my own birthday cards, if we can afford it, or for whatever holiday is imminent.  The important thing is that my husband is there for me, day in, day out, and does his best for our whole family.  It may not seem like romance, but it is.  It’s being there.

Branded

I had given up on my other blog, Reintegrating, because it didn’t seem to be helping me or anyone else. I also didn’t keep up with it. It keeps haunting me though, especially since my father died. I feel like he branded me when I was still a child, set me on a course that would take me in an endless downward spiral. I was an overly sensitive child, and this brand felt as obvious as Hester’s scarlet “A.”. My son’s diagnosis was further proof that I was bad, without redemption.  I would always be a source of suffering and pain to anyone who crossed my path.

I do not condemn my Dad.  I have four siblings and we are all very different people.  Same parents, different psychological make-up and it’s anyone’s guess how words and actions become a part of you.  My Father was actually the only other adult with me when my son was officially diagnosed.  I think we were both in shock as the doctors listed the limitations that would emerge in his life as he grew.  It breaks my heart to remember how helpless he felt to make this better.  A physician himself, he lived to heal people.  Now, his own daughter was in the deepest psychological pain he’d ever seen her face, and he couldn’t fix it.  Not that he didn’t do his best to try to ease my sorrow.  Away from my Mother, who had always handled the emotional issues in the family and was his soul mate, he was courageous and noble, cooing and rocking his six month old grand-daughter so I could be with her brother during needle sticks, neurological tests, and exhausting days of evaluations and dire predictions.

It was my brain that connected the pieces, deep in the dark foundation I had always feared was my true self.  How had he known?  All the times he’d pointed out my flaws, shown his disgust for me, listed every mistake I’d ever made, he’d been seeing the real me.  This was the beginning of the unraveling of my sanity.  The line from point A to point B was drawn, and it was my son who would have to bear the consequences – irrationality became rational.  My mind, my soul, was on the edge of a black hole whose overwhelming pull would inevitably suck me in, and spit me out forever changed in a universe that was completely foreign to me.   Branded, an alien in an unfamiliar world.  There would be no return trip, but a path has begun emerging to acceptance or something like it.  Those of us shattered by trauma  can find a way to get a piece of our self back here, another shard there, and try to build something resembling a whole person.  It’s a long journey, and each day feels like I’m starting all over again.  The alternative would be to stay shattered, and that is not  an acceptable solution for me.

May you feel peace, and may blessings pour forth to you from places you could never have imagined.  Namaste’.

Some of my best friends are disabled.

Sounds familiar, right?  One of the first things that can happen when you have a child with a disability is people become uncomfortable being around you.  I’m not sure if it’s because they think it might be contagious, or because they don’t know how to cope with their own feelings about it.  There are a random few who think (some will even tell you) that’s it’s karma, that you somehow brought it on yourself through bad behavior (in a past life, of course) that the child is here to “teach you” some cosmic lesson or a personal favorite “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.”   (There are a number of blogs that discuss the possible origin of that last saying)  Worse, it can be isolating for your child, as well as any children you have who don’t have  special needs.  My disabled son is an amazingly creative, funny, and intelligent individual.  He’s had to live through more traumas in his lifetime (most related to hospitals and medical procedures) than the vast majority of us ever will.  People too uncomfortable to really know him are missing out on so much.

It’s only slightly different for my husband.  Paraplegic since the age of 12, he’s faced innumerable rejections from people, just because he has to life his life  a little differently.  He’s facing a second lay-off from working full-time, this time by a family member who had at one point led him to believe he might be in charge of the company some day.  He’s been granted no mercy, nor has he wanted any from life or from people.  He always gets right up, ready to fight again anytime he falls.   I am so grateful to all the women who passed him over, or rejected him on eHarmony because he was on wheels, because I’m the one who gets to snuggle next to him at night.  I’m the one who has the privilege to share his life with all its ups and downs, surgeries and victories.

We’ve accomplished so little in overcoming our prejudices in this country regarding people who are differently-abled.  Again though, it is isolating.  Most people don’t have accessible houses, and because home is so comfortable for us, we tend to stay in rather than venturing out.

I never know how much this affects the lives of my two able-bodied children.  Whether it’s the two “crips” or the discarded foster dogs we’ve taken in (whose behavior is a constant work in progress).  I hope it doesn’t keep their friends away, but I can’t really do much about it if that is their reason.  Luckily, our oldest son has a friend who is a constant miracle.  Even though we don’t attend church (I gave up God the day I found my son’s diagnosis on the internet), this friend’s mother set up a two-week cycle of people from HER church to bring us meals after I had major surgery.  I still haven’t figured out how to thank her adequately.

We live an isolated life in many ways.  Not really by choice, but because the pain we cope with on a daily basis is more than most people can tolerate witnessing.  It makes us too hard to be around, despite the fact that we complain just as much about the day-to-day crap that  any other family does.  We are good people, and our lives really aren’t that different from anyone else’s.  It’s hard to help people see that though. It’s easy to say, “we have the same stressors and frustrations you do, we just have some extra ones that you don’t.”  Staying friends with someone who has watched her son learn to walk, and then watched him slowly lose that ability, is not a simple thing.  I’d like to tell you it’s worth it, but it’s hard to guarantee that.  Just a step at a time, or a turn of the wheel, that is how friendships go, isn’t it?

Muse

One of the constant frustrations in my writing life is my muse.  I know the most successful writers are the ones who sit down every day for 6-8 hours, with a break here and there, and they write.  Good, bad or indifferent, they treat it as they should – like it’s their job. It is a job they love, but they don’t sit around waiting for a bolt of creative lightening to strike them.  This is the path I should endeavor to follow, because my muse seems to be a rather elusive b*#ch who only comes out during times it’s impossible for me to get away.  (such as when I’m performing a vital service for my disabled child or husband)  I can’t will her to come, and she usually tends to bring flashbacks of traumatic times in my life that I either can’t ,or don’t feel I should, share.

A good example of this is the two drafts I’ve been trying to finish for this blog over the past weekend.  They sit there, tapping their figurative fingers on the page,  reminding me that they’re still waiting to be published.  They want closure, damnit!  (Not afraid to use guilt, my unfinished pages)  Even now I’m sneaking this time while my husband waits for me to come to bed, knowing I have to be up at 5:30 to get my son ready for school.  I begged my muse or the spirit of creativity for what I call a “sending” a couple of days ago.  A “sending” is a dream that is so vivid I know it contains a message, an important one.  My begging has produced a dream of being a character in my son’s favorite cartoon, “Dragonball Z“, and coming away with the lesson “it’s okay to struggle with your writing, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed/destined, to do it.”  The other “gift” involved two flashbacks of being molested as a child and a teen, once by a family friend, once by a stranger.  I don’t feel comfortable sharing details of the former, but the latter situation involved me sitting down on a seat next to a rather inebriated person while waiting for the bathroom at the back of an airplane.  I was going on a family trip somewhere.  People didn’t talk about things like this when I was growing up, so when this stranger (who was a drunk businessman) started secretively putting his hand up my shirt (his other hand held a screwdriver, the drink, not the tool) I didn’t know what to do.  My parents were far forward in their seats, no passengers could see us, and there were no flight attendants around.  Luckily, before he got much further around the “bases” a bathroom door opened and I ran into it and locked the door as fast as I could.  I felt dirty, guilty, wondered what I had done to provoke such behavior. I felt a deep hatred for myself and for the man.  I wept quietly, and prayed he had stumbled back to his seat before I was done.  As it happened, he hadn’t and he gave me a lascivious look that seemed to imply we had both just participated in something that had brought mutual enjoyment.  I got back to my seat as quickly as possible, and away from him.

This is what comes up when I try to “write what I know.”  So tell me, any followers I have left, what do I do with this collection of gropings, and nastiness that emerges when I dig deeply into my mind?  As a last plea, what do I say to my husband when I walk into the bedroom now and he says, “You know you have to get up early, couldn’t you have done this some other time?”  Ah, the delights of the writer’s life.

May your own life be peaceful, and filled with blessings.  Namaste

How do you mourn?

I would love to hear feedback from anyone who happens to read my blog about the question that serves as it’s title.  Some losses are immediate and final – for example the death of a parent.  Other losses just go on and on, like looking at the sweet face of my middle child every day and not knowing how to mourn what has been taken from him by the roll of the genetic dice.  Finding something as simple as a pair of pants he can work with is like trying to climb Everest.  No kid wants to look like he’s wearing disability clothes and at the same time, my darling son is wise enough to realize that if the waist doesn’t have elastic (so he can pull them down), he’s not going to be unbuttoning metal buttons or even unzipping a metal zipper on a “rockin” pair of jeans.  Neither of us want it to be that way, but that’s the way it is.  I have sensitive children, whether through genetics or from them watching my own reactions to things that come up in life.  We’re working with sweatpants for now, and it’s better (obviously) than when my husband was paralyzed around 1972.  On a scale of 0-10 in mourning this is nowhere near a 10, but this is just one issue that we have to confront.  Watching the world fall apart (seemingly) gritting our teeth through another lay off (my husband’s 2nd in three years) is much more frightening and painful.  We’ll find a solution to the clothing issue, but the lay-off, the political climate that went from hope to despair over the course of the past four years, recovering from surgery, and coping with the isolation that no one tells you about when you get a diagnosis that makes your child “special”; those are deeper cuts to the fabric of the self.

Personality has a lot to do with mourning as well, some people are better at picking themselves up and moving forward.  Their feet don’t seem to get stuck in the tarry “gunk” that sucks some of us down.  I tend toward getting stuck through a combination of genetics and the way I was raised.  Because of that, I would love to read your stories of getting over and past ongoing mourning, the kind that is a wound that never completely heals.  The most basic comfort is still having my son to hug and hold, his humor that surprises and delights us, crying together over losses, uncountable moments we experience each day.  On dark days , your suggestions may help in ways you can’t know, nor can I, yet.  I hope others may be helped as well.  This feels like a hemorrhage of grief, that slows down at times, but is gushing again before I realize it.

May your pains be bearable; may the sun come out after rain and startle you with the beauty of a double rainbow, may good news outweigh bad, and may you feel whole; held safely by a universe unimaginable in its complexity, majesty and vast distances.

Your Hands

This poem is dedicated to my husband, Kevin, who happens to be paraplegic, and to all the veterans who have come home shattered by PTSD, limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, and more.  There are women who will understand and love you and there are men who will understand and love you. (I have PTSD and anxiety for non-war related reasons)  There are men and women who need your love, which no bomb, IED, or terrorist can ever diminish.  Male or female, you are still whole human beings.  Television tries to convince us of lies about our sexuality.  The absolute truth is: the most important sex organ we possess is between our ears and in our chests with each pulse of our hearts that says, “I’m still alive, I’m still here.”

May you be blessed with joy, love and peace in every aspect of your lives.  To quote a young, and very wise woman, “You’re still an innocent.” Taylor Swift

YOUR HANDS

Restless, in pain, I lay down in our bed

hoping for respite.

As if summoned by an unspoken plea,

I feel you reach for me.

Your hands, large and strong,

gently stroke my arms, my shoulders,

and answering a silent wish,

cup my breasts;, gentle, knowing, soothing.

Settling my fight, flight or flee response,

kindling a warmth that spreads like

a healing fever, encompassing me.

Heart, mind, soul – your hands softly speaking

your unconditional love in ways that your

words could never convince me.

Before I close my eyes, tears spilling

over  their lids,

I take your fingers in mine,

and kiss your palms with all the love

and passion overflowing in my heart.

Innocently, I revel in the melting

sweetness between my lips,

before placing your hands back home

on my  breasts,

soft but for the peaks, you have

led me to so many times before.

Your hands speak with an eloquence

words can never capture,

soothing away my worries, doubts and fears

with their constancy and faithfulness.

Beloved, my lover and mate for life,

I thank you with everything I am

or will ever be,

for the certainty of  the love I feel,

emanating to me through your hands.

Janet Landis

Music Lessons

This was the story I wrote in 24 hours for the finals in the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest 2011.  It needs work, but enjoy!

MUSIC LESSONS
After school sessions with a music prodigy have inharmonious consequences.

“Mrs. Barrows is late,” thought Lucy.  She sighed, wondering how long she’d be waiting. Lucy had shown an amazing aptitude for music at a young age. She wondered what instrument she would be practicing with today.  Mrs. Barrows liked to surprise her, and Lucy had so far been able to play anything she brought in, from a recorder to a cello.  Her footsteps on the tile floor punctuated her loneliness.  As far as she knew the school was empty, except for maybe the janitor.  There was a single window in the room to look out and see if Mrs. Barrows car was in the parking lot.  Lucy’s pale complexion, framed by thick black hair that she wore in a single braid down her back, accentuated her dark eyes.  The only vehicle in the parking lot was a white delivery truck.  It was getting dark outside, and Lucy mentally kicked herself for not charging her cell phone last night.  Mrs. Barrows usually gave her a ride home after her lesson, so she knew her family wouldn’t be expecting her for a while.  The “clunk” of the door to the room being opened startled her  as two delivery men came through the door.  They were pushing a large object, covered completely by a protective canvas tarp on a wooden dolly.  As they rolled the dolly past the piano to an open spot on the floor, one of the men looked up and saw Lucy.  He acknowledged her with a nod.  “Let’s set it down right here,” the first man said, and together the two men picked the object up off the dolly and gently set it on the floor.
“You aren’t Mrs. Barrows, are you?” asked one of the men, as he flipped through some papers on a clipboard he’d taken out from under his arm.  “No, she went to the bathroom” Lucy stammered, not wanting them to know she was alone.  “Well, we need a signature on the delivery ticket, so I guess you’ll have to do it” the man said.  “Are you sure that’s okay?” Lucy asked.  “Yeah, it doesn’t matter who signs, we just need a signature to show it was delivered.  “As long as you think it’s okay….” Lucy stammered.  She climbed down from the chair, and walked down the stairs to the delivery man still standing by the object.  He handed her a pen, and indicated where she was to sign.  As soon as she finished the delivery man ripped off the top of the paper and gave her the bottom copy.  “Good luck with it,” he said, as he walked toward the door that his co-worker held open for him. “Thank you,” she replied holding the delivery ticket in her hands.  With that, they were gone and it was just Lucy in the room once again, now with the addition of the large object that she assumed was an instrument for her to play.
Lucy decided to take off the canvas and see just what this mystery instrument was.  The canvas was held in place with bungie cords.  She started releasing them one by one, until all them were off.   Not knowing how her teacher would feel about it, Lucy took a deep breath, and gently tugged off the canvas.  The rough material brushed against the strings of the instrument as it came off with a whispered sigh of air.  The strings hummed, and Lucy felt something deep inside of her respond.  At that moment Lucy heard the door, and in walked Mrs. Barrows.  “I’m sorry I’m late Lucy,” she said, “It took quite a bit of research and persuading to get this here.  Do you know what it is?”  “I think so,” said Lucy, “although I’ve never seen one except in photos.  I think it’s a harp, a very old  one” she said.  Her teacher nodded, “Yes, that’s right Lucy.  It is a harp, and a very old one at that.  The only reason the owner was willing to loan it to us was because I played recordings of you on a variety of instruments and he was so impressed with your talent that he agreed to let you play it as long as you perform once for him in his home.  He is quite old, and isolated.  He has no family left so he gets lonely, especially for young people like you are.”  “Would you be there with me Mrs. Barrows?” Lucy asked.  “Of course dear.  You are a prodigy Lucy, have you heard that before?”  “Yes, although I’m not sure I’m good enough to be called one.  Learning to play instruments is very easy for me.  It’s like my body has it’s own memory, and when I touch an instrument I don’t even have to think about what to do, I just start playing.”  “It’s a gift Lucy,” Mrs. Barrows said, taking Lucy’s hands in her own, “and it’s very rare.  You have had to learn to read music, but that has come easily for you, and you play well by ear too.  You only have to listen to something once or twice and you can play it.  The reason I’ve borrowed this harp for you is to help you get in touch with the feeling side of your gift.”  “What is that supposed to mean?” Lucy asked.  “You are just starting your journey in life Lucy, even though you are already 15 years old.  As your body continues to change and you start experiencing more of the world, you’re going to need a positive way to challenge the depth and breadth of your feelings.  Music can be another voice for you, a way to let your emotions flow through you, and get released in a creative way.”  “Why is this harp so special?”  “Because it is old, and has been touched by many hands, male and female, and has maintained it’s strength and resilience, two qualities that will be very important to you as you grow-up.”  “Now,” she said, releasing Lucy’s hands, “let’s look it over.  We don’t have a lot of time today because I was late, but we’ll make up for that in the coming weeks. Take some time to examine it in detail, try the strings and listen to what you hear.  See if you can sense those aspects of it I mentioned, strength and resilience.”
Lucy turned to look at the harp.  The front of  it was carved to form a male torso.  His face was handsome, and Lucy could already feel the urge to reach out and touch his cheek.  “Come here Lucy,” Mrs. Barrows said, “I’ve gotten you the stool you sit on to play.”  Lucy had been so consumed in her examination of the harp, she’d forgotten about actually playing it.  “There are 38 strings Lucy, and you use both hands to play.  Why don’t you try?”  Lucy sat down, and felt a chill run down her spine as she touched the strings.  It was a feeling she’d never had before, making her glad she had on long sleeves to hide the goose bumps, and risen hair on her arms.  She hid a shiver, she hoped, as she felt a connection to something dark, mysterious, and ancient – older than she could imagine.  She gently strummed her fingers across the strings, even gingerly, unsure of herself in the watery depths she felt she was entering.  She realized there was a humming in her ears that was distinctly masculine and as she emboldened her fingers to play with more strength, she heard a voice whisper, “There now lass, are you afraid of some old polished wood, and metal strings?” “Of course not!” she responded, then looked up to see if she’d said it out loud.  Mrs. Barrows had her back to Lucy though, busy searching for some piece of music for her to practice. “Whew” she thought, “That was close.”  “Don’t you worry lass, I’ll keep you safe, any words that pass between us are silent to anyone else.”  There it was, that voice again that sounded deep, a man’s voice talking to Lucy as if she were a woman, not a child.  She wasn’t sure she liked it, so she decided to focus on the feel of her fingers on the metal strings, the sound each one made as her finger stroked across it, then contrasting it with fullness of all the strings when they were strummed together.  She was glad that the carving of the man’s chest and head faced away from her, so she could keep her eyes open and still enjoy the sight of the gleaming wood.  Now looking at it more closely she could see that it was inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, beautifully carved lines depicting vines that disappeared under the man’s cascading mane of hair.  She wondered what it would feel like, running her fingers through that hair….”STOP” she yelled in her mind, “Stop leading my thoughts away like that, I don’t like it!!”  “That’s where you’re wrong. These are just the kind of thoughts you DO like, why else would you be thinking them?” the deep voice said.  Lucy dropped her hands from the strings of the harp, and the connection was lost.  “Why did you stop playing Lucy?  You sounded lovely!  What a gift you have dear girl. It takes most people years to learn to play as well as you do.”  “It’s getting kind of late, isn’t it Mrs. Barrows?  I don’t have a way to call my Mom and I don’t want her to be worried about me.”  “Oh, goodness Lucy, you’re right, it is getting late.  I hadn’t realized, please help me cover the harp and I’ll take you home.”  “No problem” Lucy thought, “better covered and quiet.”  As she and Mrs. Barrows slid the canvas over the harp, Lucy glanced up and was sure she saw one of his eyes winking at her.  A chill ran down her spine again, but at least she wasn’t hearing the voice in her head anymore.  As she and Mrs. Barrows gathered up their things, Lucy asked, “Do you know anything about the carving Mrs. Bowers? Like if it was a specific person or deity or something like that?”   “I’m sorry Lucy, I don’t know much about where the harp came from, the man who loaned it to me is an acquaintance, so we don’t talk very often.  “Well, I’m not really sure if I want to learn how to play the harp Mrs. Barrows.”  “Why Lucy,” she exclaimed, “that’s not like you!  You usually love trying new instruments.”  “Maybe it’s just the carving” Lucy offered, shrugging her shoulders, “there’s just something about it that gives me the creeps.”  “It cost quite a bit to get the harp delivered Lucy, so why don’t we give it at least a few weeks and then if you still feel strongly about it, I’ll have it taken back to the man who owns it.  Sound like a plan?”  “Yeah, I guess” Lucy said hesitantly.  “All right then, we’d better head for home.” Mrs. Barrows said, as she held the door open for Lucy.  “The janitor will turn out the lights when he comes through in a few minutes, so we can leave them on.”
On the ride home in Mrs. Barrows car, Lucy started to feel silly about her earlier fears.  “It was probably just a combination of having to wait so long in that room alone, and needing to get home.” Lucy thought to herself.  They soon reached her house, and as Lucy got out she said, “Thanks for the ride Mrs. B, and I’m sorry about saying that stuff about not wanting to play.  I know it was a big expense for you to get it moved to the school, and I really appreciate it.  I’ll probably feel completely different by tomorrow.  Goodnight, and thanks for the ride.”  “You’re welcome Lucy, and don’t worry about a thing. You’ll be playing like a pro in a couple of weeks if you follow your usual pattern.  Have a good night Lucy, I’ll see you tomorrow.”  As Lucy shut the car door and started walking up to the front door of her house, her Mom came out.  “Long day for you, wasn’t it?  I’ve got a plate of food in the oven for you, and then you can go right to bed.”  “Thanks Mom,” Lucy said, “that sounds really good right now.”
Lucy woke-up the next morning feeling like she’d barely slept all night.  She left the house saying  “I’ll see you after school Mom.”   Lucy felt better as the day went on.  Band was her last class of the day, and she played flute, the instrument she’d chosen for band.  She was first chair, but she could play every instrument in the room at least as well as, if not better than whoever the first chair was for that instrument.  She couldn’t help noticing the covered harp which they had pushed over to a spot against the wall.  She would have sworn she saw the canvas move a couple of times, as if the man carved underneath was moving around.  Once again she felt the chill go down her spine.  She almost went home on the bus, but she hated letting Mrs. Barrow down, so she waited after band.  As usual, Mrs. Barrow didn’t come right away, so Lucy started on her homework.  “Lucy,” said a masculine voice, “uncover me, it’s hot under here.”  She sat up, startled, how could she be hearing him when she wasn’t touching the harp?  “Oh, you’ll see my dear” she heard in her ear, “each day we’ll be getting closer and closer.”  “No, we won’t” Lucy yelled.  She ran down to the harp and pulled the canvas off with a sense of foreboding.  Before she could react to the sight of his arms free, his hands were on her throat, and despite her attempts to claw at him, and get herself loose, the mahogany and his arms were too strong. “Yes Lucy, we’re going to become very close.” He whispered, “you will be MY special prodigy now.”  Lucy knew she was dying, she could hear the harp being played by unseen hands.  The last thing she felt was his hot breath on her cheek as she lost consciousness.
Twenty minutes later as she walked in Mrs. Barrows heard the harp being played beautifully.  “I’m sorry to be late again Lucy, I’m glad you started without me.”   She set her things down, and turned to look at Lucy, but she wasn’t sitting on the stool.  She was laying on the floor, blue.  Mrs. Barrows cried “Lucy” and dialed 911.  As she knelt by Lucy’s side, she felt a pair of hands on her throat, lifting her off the floor, and choking off her airway.  When the EMT’s arrived 10 minutes later, they found two dead bodies laying on the floor beside a beautiful, mahogany harp.

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