“A Mile From Land” # 48

“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)

17 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985

Dear One,

When I came out of the bank, I was not happy. As I saw Stephen lounging and smoking a cigarette as if everything  were normal, my fear gave over to anger.

‘How could you?’ I yelled as I punched him in the chest.

Stephen grunted with the impact of my fists. ‘You didn’t need me. You were doing just fine on your own.’

‘They almost killed me, Stephen!’ I ranted. ‘They had oozies to my head!’ I pulled my hair back to show him the red circles that would soon be bruises.

‘And, you had nothing to fear. Your money was good. The teller just had never seen a two-dollar bill before. They’ve been out of circulation for a few years, you know.’

I didn’t know, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. Instead, I fumed and snorted.

‘Come on, let’s go shopping. You’ll get yourself something pretty and forget all about the bank.’ He put a hand under my elbow.

‘No way! Besides, Ian just suggested we go straight back to the ship.’ I pulled my elbow from his grasp. Ian didn’t abandon me, not like Stephen.

‘A good suggestion.’ Stephen nodded. ‘Come one, let’s move on.’

I walked with him, but I was far from moving on.

 

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Weekend Coffee Share… “Typical”

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If we were sitting across the table from one another and having a cup of coffee together, this is what I would tell you…

It’s been a rather uneventful, yet busy week. It took me three days amid the hectic running to and fro just to get caught up on laundry.  With us all having been through this year’s strain of the Flu and back, there was a ton of extra laundry. Sterilizing the house is no easy task, but necessary to prevent a re-occurence. In the meantime, I had a stack of correspondence from the last week and this that was at least a foot or two thick to respond to.

I did find some time to do a little writing, though. It was only my traditional hour a day, but it was good to get back to. “A Mile From Land” is nearing it’s conclusion and I’m finding it very difficult to push into the last few days of that past journey. They were so painful and the memories are sparse. So, I’ve been froze on the first paragraph all week. My goal for this weekend is to push through that brain ice and get it done!

In the meantime, I’ve been perusing my rough draft written for this past year’s Nanowrite, “Sunlight, Stained Glass, and a Sinner Sanctified”. That’s the temporary working title. I’ve written over 60K on it, but as I’m looking over it I’m almost at the point of chucking all but two maybe three scenes. At the moment, it opens with the climax and denouement’s with the Happy-ever-after scenario…. Thinking of moving the climax to the mid-end, but then, how to start the beginning… Ahhhh, such is the life…

Last night, I joined our church confirmation students to go to a field trip to the Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a temple congregation with a long history dating back to 1824 in our region. We attended Shabbat service. I have to say it was beautiful and brought back many very happy memories of one the foster homes I was placed in. I enjoyed singing in Hebrew that sounds so very  much like the Old Shawnee language my Gr. Grandmother spoke. I’ve often wondered if maybe there was some Jewish heritage back in the line somewhere. After all, we do share so many customs… or did when I lived in my Gr. Grandparent’s home. Anyway, it’s just a thought.

So, it has been, overall, a “typical” week for us. A good thing! Can’t say I’m looking forward to the forecasted week of rain, but then, we live in Northern Kentucky…rain happens. 🙂 I hope you have a great week. Time to refill my coffee, and get to work on “A Mile From Land”…

 

If you would like to sit down across the virtual table and share a cup of coffee and some pleasant conversation, then by all means, come on out and join us.  Eclectic Alli is hosting a coffee share.  This week’s share is here. and the link up is here. Come on and join in!  (Thank you, Trent, for posting the link up…obviously, I stole a few of your sentences.)

“A Mile From Land” #47

“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)

16 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985

Dear One,

We docked at the end of the pier for the Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It was a wide, steel pier that led into the Island between two large warehouses. The reek of fish was worse here than at any other port-of-call we’d been to. Still, I was excited.

There wasn’t a medical mission at this port, so we were free just to be tourists. My first stop would be the bank to transfer some of my pay to local currency. My second stop would be the market. I needed a new shirt and skirt to fit my new size. That was my intent. but, as they say, intent doesn’t get the job done.

The bank… It was full of armed soldiers, outside and in. Each teller had an additional two soldiers guarding them. I began to wonder whether or not I really needed to make an exchange at all. The week before, Captain Merk had shared with me his extensive collection of foreign monies. Some of it was so very beautiful. So, I thought I might begin my own collection of foreign money.

Coin collections… My Dad had one before he died. His collection was the only thing Mom wouldn’t (or couldn’t) sell for drugs. One day, I knew that collection would be mine. But, for me, I was more fascinated by the art on the bills. I’d never seen money you could hold up to the light to see an image within an image before. Oh, and it was so brightly colored, too. Ah, but I digress…

The Bank of Trinidad… An armed fortress. Today, Ian wasn’t my buddy, Stephen was. Stephen was huge, not like Dr. Stephen was thin. No, Stephen was like an armored tank in size twelve shoes. He also didn’t stick so close as did Ian.  So, as I stepped up to the teller, Stephen waited on the bench beside the front door.

I handed the teller several two dollar bills, United States Dollars. Almost instantly, I found myself shoved down to my knees, machine guns pressed to my head, back, and chest. my hands were yanked to my head.

I was terrified.

I didn’t understand a single word they were shouting at me. Behind me, I heard a voice, not Stephen’s speaking to the soldiers. Then, he spoke to me.

‘Just don’t move, Ma’am. They think your money is counterfeit. They’re checking it out. Just be as still and calm as you can be.’ His voice was confident, strong, and American – New York, Brooklyn accent.

It seemed like forever. Everytime I swayed, the guns were jabbed into my body hard. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

‘You’re doing okay, just keep being still and silent.’ The voice encouraged.

Where was Stephen? He was supposed to be protecting me. Where the hell was he? I was terrified beyond terror. Had I come so far only to die over a simple two-dollar bill? And my baby?…  Oh, Dear God, don’t let them kill my baby.’ I prayed.

I was held there, on my knees, on the cold granite floor for what seemed like multiple eternities. My mind was on Phillip, it was as if I could hear his voice and feel his arms holding mine up. I continued to pray for my baby’s life. Mine, well, I already considered it to be expendable.

Then, just as suddenly as I was driven to my knees, I was yanked to my feet. The soldiers went back to their posts as if nothing had happened. I covered my mouth with my hands to hold in the sobs.

‘Here is your exchange, Ma’am.’ The teller handed me some local currency. ‘Have a nice day.’

I blinked, frozen by fear.

‘You’re okay, Ma’am.’ The voice behind me spoke. ‘I’m pretty sure your companion is right outside waiting for you.’

I turned, and the gentleman smiled.

Seeing his face… his eyes… I could have sworn it was Ian. But, it didn’t look like him, or did it? Then, he winked and quirked the corner of his lips. It was Ian. I was sure of it, now. I was about to speak his name, but he interrupted.

‘Tell your friend that I suggest you might want to skip shopping and go back to the ship.’ He reached out to squeeze my shoulder.

I nodded and headed to the door, still fighting tears.

The Wait

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C. Dale Rogerson

She waited by the window. He’d promised he would return. So, she waited. The seasons changed around her as she waited. She lived her life under the lamp post’s glow while she waited. She built her house right beside it, and waited. The decades passed, and still, she waited.

It was a cold winter’s night, the snow lay thick about as she waited by the window, waiting for him.

Her frail head gently lay upon the cold glass. There he was…

His form not quite solid, glowing from within.

He’d come back for her, just as he’d promised.

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This work of fiction is written as part of the Friday Fictioneers 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  If you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really awesome reading experience, these little stories are well worth your time. A Huge thank you goes to  Dale Rogerson for her photo this week. Come on out and join us at: https://rochellewisoff.com/ . We’d love to see you around the table.

“A Mile From Land” #46

“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)

15 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985

Dear One,

It was another week before we sailed back into St. Georges Harbor, Grenada. Seeing the statue of Christ in the harbor brought a smile and peace to my soul. Seeing Mother Superior waiting at the pier caused my heart to skip a  beat. Why was she there, anyway? As I stepped off the end of the gangplank, Mother Superior smiled and held out her arms.

‘My Child, it is good to see you.’ She hugged me tight. ‘I have mail for you, and a package, too.’

I smiled back. My heart flip-flopped at the thought. My Gran must have written.

‘Come with me.’ Mother Superior suggested. ‘I have had nothing but glowing reports about you. I see you still hold to your vows, as well.’

‘On the ship, at sea, I had to remove my veil. It was so windy.’ I confessed, expecting her anger.

‘We do as we must, Sister.’ Mother answered. ‘You kept your prayer time?’

‘Yes, Mother, and even more so.’ I easily admitted, ‘Oh, Mother, I have so much to say to you.’

Over the next few hours, I told her about everything that had happened, including finding the a friend in Ian. Mother Superior smiled knowingly.

‘You are yet young. You have not taken final vows, yet. Maybe you want to follow a different path, my Child. there would be no shame in that. You are about to become a mother. It is okay to want your baby, and to want your little angel to have a family. I understand this.’ As she spoke, she went to a cupboard and took out a box. ‘This is for you, from me.’

I took the box she offered and opened it. Inside was the most beautiful Christening gown I’d ever seen. ‘It’s beautiful, Mother!’ I gasped, feeling tears as they filled my eyes. This was really happening. I was having a baby – our baby. I couldn’t hide or deny it any longer.

‘It is only a matter of weeks, now, Child.’ Mother Superior reminded as she handed me the stack of letter from home. ‘I dare to suspect that you have family at home that misses you.’

I took the stack, and flipped through them. Gran, Mom, Gran, Phillip’s parents… Phil’s parents? My hand began to shake as I pulled it from the pile. What would they have to say to me after – after… I sniffled.

‘My husband’s parents…’ I choked out.

‘Perhaps it is good news.’ Mother Superior suggested as she poured tea and placed Lorna Doone’s on a plate with a smile. ‘They have had time to mourn, time to think about their actions. Perhaps they seek forgiveness.’

I seriously doubted they would be doing that, but I kept my mouth shut and my doubts to myself. I would read Gran’s letter’s first.

 

“A Mile From Land” #45

“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)

14 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985

Dear One,

We met up with another ship at the next port-of-call and transferred passengers. Then, we spoke with the Naval Authorities about what we had found, and had witnessed. The medical team decided to change ships, except for me. I had asked Captain Merk if I could stay, at least for another month.

The truth was, I had found a home on the ship. I found working the helm to be a worthy challenge, especially in storms. I enjoyed the wind on my face; the sound of the water as it kissed the hull. And, I’d become rather fond of visiting the different Islands and cultures. The Captain agreed, saying I could stay as long as I desired. Personally, I’d become like family. There was a mutual love and care among the crew.

And so, I stayed. My duties didn’t change much save that I would be spending more time studying Maritime Laws and Traditions. I now took more time at the wheel. I learned more about how to read the winds and which sails to call for and when. In my off-hours, I could be found with the Sailmaker, or the Engineer down in the bowels of the ship.

We all have moments in our lives that mold and shape us. Finding the remains of the massacre was one of those moments in my life to that point. It changed my soul, hardened my heart, focused my innermost demons. And, led me to learn even more self-defense. The latter, Ian was very happy to teach me.

 

 

“A Mile From Land” #44

“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)

13 February 2017 – Timeline: 1985

Dear One,

After the burials were complete and covered with driftwood to make the location, we returned to the ship. The sailors in the crow’s nest remained on guard. And, life as we knew it, went on.

Our location was several miles below the equator and that called for a celebration. A grand party meant to wipe the morning’s horror from our minds. Wit the help of the Sailmaker’s best hooch, we celebrated King Neptune with guzzling contests, dancing, and other such shenanigans. As dawn began to lighten the horizon, I finally drifted into slumber somewhere in the vicinity of the bar.

Late into the night; I woke, sobbing. I couldn’t get the images of the dead out of my mind. Men,  brutally beaten and sliced up. Women, bound and no doubt molested. Children… babies… with broken necks, and eviscerated. Sights that no living person should ever see, but we had. I felt strong arms surround me, pulling me against a muscle-bound chest.

‘Shh, Lassie, I got ya.’ I heard the heavy brogue in my ear, but I couldn’t stop the tears. ‘Aw, Love,’ He cooed, holding me closer.

And so it was for many nights. During waking hours, I could shove the images out of my  mind, and stifle the sounds of gunfire from my soul. But, when I slept, both returned with a force that would not be blocked. Ever and always, I felt Ian’s arms encircle me. His gentle whispers letting me know that all was well.