Story Seeds – Day 25: Signs

Is it just me, or do the birds sound off-key today?  

Gabe was sitting on the porch doing his crossword when I walked up from the trail.  He had the frayed porch quilt on his lap.  He looked at me over the top of his glasses, partially because he knew how much it annoyed me.

Off key? He said. And then he laughed a little and shook his head.  I sat down beside him on the bench.  I’m serious, I said.  Just listen. Listen to those crows, it sounds like their voices haven’t cracked yet. And there’s an owl who’s either too old or too young to get the right tone.  

I felt him looking at me for a moment before he went back to his crossword.  I leaned back on the bench beside him.

Something’s just not right, I said. And even the birds know it. It’s way too early for it to be this warm, to be this dry. And look, Millie is still sniffing around by the forest, by the giant woods. She was whimpering along the trail, but kept pace so I knew her foot wasn’t hurt. And she would’ve stopped if she was spooked.

He set his crossword puzzle and glasses on the small iron table beside the bench.  

How about some coffee?  He said.  Which was really just his way of saying, “OK, so this is what we’re doing.  I know I was sitting here enjoying my crossword puzzle and it might’ve looked like I was bored, so you thought it necessary to pull me into your crazy.  Which is fine, I will catch up, I always do.  But let me get a cup of coffee first.  And then you can tell me all about your certainty in the signs delivered from the woods.”

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 24: Attempt

We snuck around the grounds of The Academy for days, taking pictures, wandering the halls of the new business offices.  Looking back, it’s a wonder that no one stopped us, that no one questioned us.  We even climbed the stairs directly to the attic and scoped out how we could break open the small, sealed door with a crowbar.  I tried to write this story for years, but could never finish it.  I remember we made our final plans on a school night.  And I came home a little later than usual.  Mom was in bed and I was trying to pretend like nothing much had happened.  But it was spring and the window was open and I wanted to tell her everything.  I wanted to tell her so badly that I was excited and terrified and sure we were going to find something incredible in that attic, that we were going to meet the ghost of the girl we’d all seen in the bell tower.  

Alas, I really don’t trust my account of the events.  There is surely someone else in the group who remembers it better.  But I am only in touch with one of them now.  She even got married there.  

What I do remember is that we didn’t take enough risks, we didn’t go far enough.  I remember we lost courage at the end, we gave up trying to get into the attic, into the tower.  Yet, we did find something else.  

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 23: Refuge

They never told anyone about the abandoned house on the Gulf coast, the one that saved their lives.  Though neither one of them would admit it, they had their doubts about the trip.  They took trips so rarely with just the two of them, maybe a weekend every other year, which already created some strain on their time away.  They wanted to give each other something memorable that they could reminisce about during their tight schedules of work and school, activities and meals.  And the idea of a Honeymoon several months after the wedding seemed ridiculous not because they weren’t in love, but because that word “Honeymoon” implies new love that has an excitement and naivety that they just didn’t have after a decade together and three kids.  Nor did they need romantic labels to define their time together.  Couldn’t they just take a trip?  And did it have to be somewhere exotic?

When they shared where they were planning on going, everyone had something to say about New Orleans.  There was suddenly an impressive list of all the food they must eat and places they must see in four days.  Of course people were just trying to be helpful and were, perhaps, nostalgic for their own trips, but it felt like this subtle pressure to form their trip from those suggestions.  As if people would be offended if they had made their own trip.

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 22: Seen

Alice only dated from a distance. Not long distance, they were all girls who lived in town, or at least close enough to frequent the local cafes. She was drawn to the girls who were second in their crowd. They were slightly plain and probably brighter than the leaders, but they were closest to the leader.  And they were also very aware of all the other girls in the group.  

Alice was quiet and unnoticeable, completely and literally invisible.  Even though her mother told her, warned her it might take her longer than the others to come into view, she was anxious to get there, to be seen by one of those girls.

Other than her family, no one noticed her.  Though she had gotten good at dodging other pedestrians, some still bumped into her and tried to pretend they hadn’t run into anything. Not even her brother would tell her how to make herself seen.  He just shook his head and said, No Way, Alice, No one gets to be seen just because they’re here. We all have to earn it.

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 21: Pull Over

A red bike slowed the morning traffic on the corner of Harrison and 12th.  It looked like an old Schwinn, with an empty basket behind the seat.  Clearly, it was left in haste, thrown down partially on the street and the curb.  Even without a body or an apparent accident, the commuters slowed to avoid it, slowed to get a look at the scene.  But no one stopped at first to just move the bike, so the cars backed up for miles.  By the time Garrett approached the area, he caught sight of the bike and turned onto 12th.  The nearest neighborhood was at least a couple of miles up the hill and no one seemed to be around.  He pulled the bike off the road and leaned it against the street sign.  As he walked back to his car, he realized his hands were wet from where he’d grabbed the handles, but it wasn’t water.

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 20: Tomorrow

Due to lack of interest, tomorrow is cancelled.  With all the whining about Monday, she is finally giving up the stage and just letting Tuesday try the show.  Everything that was scheduled to happen will be delayed by a day, or may not happen at all.  Some of you may have waited months or years for tomorrow – a birth, a wedding, a promotion, a transplant.  Well, you can thank the whiners, all the Negative Nancies out there, for shunning Monday offstage and ruining your life.  Clearly your joy wasn’t shared enough to keep up the good spirits.  No one would have done this to Friday or Saturday.  And why does Tuesday get to step up?  It’s just a day to get something done to get you one step closer to the rest of the week.  And as much as everyone scoffs at Wednesday, its “Hump Day” motto gave it a new face, a new hope with the half-way mark.  Thursday is so close to Friday that it’s easily forgiven as part of the week.  But poor Monday, just trying to lead the week, give a boost in sales and kick off another batch of seven days to fill with life.  And you all bullied her away…    

~ Megan M. Codera

Story Seeds – Day 19: Sundays

The Sanders never went to church on Sundays, but they were always gone by the time we piled into the wagon for the first service.  Wherever they went, they didn’t have to wear slacks or skirts or uncomfortable shoes.  Mom suggested I should invite Rachel to come along with us, trying to hold back from telling us how she prays for that family everyday.  With both parents working and the music that came from the brothers’ windows, Mom said they needed someone to grab the Lord’s attention to keep an eye on sweet Rachel.  

In the summer, they often came home late in the afternoon, and showed us coolers filled with clams or crabs and pockets full of shells.  It was one of the rare sightings we caught of the brothers too, who hardly ever came out of their rooms.  They only ever appeared when there was food.  And therefore they were just as interesting as a cooler of clams.  

One Saturday before summer really dove into the heat, Rachel and I played all day in the woods that we had been kidnapped.  When we finally escaped our captors, we ran to her house, famished.  Her mom was reading on the porch and looked up like she was actually grateful to see us.

I was just about to come find you, she said.  

Not a chance, said Rachel, those guys were were quite clever this round and covered all their tracks.

 Well, obviously they’re no match for you two.  And thank goodness for that.  How about a snack?  

We followed her into the house.  All of the windows were open and it smelled like outside.  She cut string cheese into stips and wrapped it with salami.  Then sliced up an apple for us to share.  She ate a few pieces as she watched us eat.

We’re going to the beach tomorrow for clams, Tina, want to come along?

Tomorrow’s Sunday, I have church.

Ah yes, she said, and then she paused to keep from saying all the others things she might have said.  

Well, maybe I can convince your Mom to let you miss a day?

Doubtful, I said.

~ Megan M. Codera