Monday, November 12, 2007
Thank you for murdering my mother and ruining my life.
Dear Mr. Piani, January 20
I hope prison is treating you well. I hope you’re enjoying the gourmet food they serve and the fabulous friends I’m sure you’re making. The men in prison always seem so friendly on tv.
Dear Mr. Piani, January 24
They located the murder weapon the other day. I thought you’d want to know. It took them awhile to find it in the crawlspace, but they persevered.
It was all over the news. You should have seen everyone cheering. Your best friend was right up front, thanking the police, saying how he never knew this other side of you. Liar. He is almost as bad as you. Sure, he hasn’t murdered anyone, yet, but I’m betting his anger will get the best of him one day as well.
Dear Mr. Piani, January 29
Because of you, I’m forced to see the school counselor twice a week. Like there’s anything to talk about, really. You killed my mother. I am now motherless. End of story. What more is there to say? Am I angry with you, she asks. Why should I be? It just seemed to fit, you know, like, it was about time you killed her. I was beginning to think the day would never come, but you came through for me. You never were one to let anyone down. Always keep your promises. Yes you do.
Dear Mr. Piani, February 3
Today is my birthday. I get to celebrate it with your best friend and his family. Joy. It will be almost like spending it with you. Almost. Except he hasn’t killed anyone yet and you have.
I hope I get a piñata and everything. My bazillion new friends, the ones that have latched onto me since you killed my mother, are all going to be in attendance. We’re all such good friends now. Such good friends.
Maybe your best friend will send you a piece of birthday cake with a file in it.
Dear Mr. Piani, February 22
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. I’ve been so busy with my new friends that there’s hardly time enough to write. You know how it is. I’m sure you and your prison buddies are the same way, except even closer.
Dear Mr. Piani, February 29
How is Leap Year Day treating you? It’s getting closer to your trial, so I’m betting you’re thinking more about that than Leap Day.
I don’t know how much I’ll be able to come, since I’m still in school and everything. Oh, and wear your blue suit. You always say, “A true businessman wears a nice blue suit.” Perhaps it will show you in your best light.
Dear Mr. Piani , March 5
We have to do a genealogy project in History class. I got really creative last night and made a family tree out of construction paper. Each family member’s name is written on an apple. I drew a picture of you standing next to it, with my mother’s apple crushing under your foot. I think it’s a pretty good likeness of you. Maybe I should take art next year. I’ll have to ask my guidance counselor about it when I see her for our next counseling session.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 15
My counselor thinks it’s an excellent idea for me to enroll in art next year. I wanted to thank you—you were truly the inspiration for it.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 19
Today is the first day of your trial. I won’t be there. I have a quiz in Biology, and like you always told me, sometimes you have to decide which thing is more important to you. And I like learning about plant life quite a bit.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 21
I bet you enjoy getting out of your cell each day, even if it is to sit in a courtroom. At least you can see your best friend and your family. I bet they’re all there, every day. I’ll be there soon. See you then!
Dear Mr. Piani, March 23
I was on the docket today, but I didn’t get called to testify. Rats.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 24
Today was my first day on the stand. I saw you looking at me and I looked right back. I’m not the least bit afraid of you. I knew you were going to kill my mother. I knew you were never going to kill me. Not because you like me better, but because I knew you’d be in jail before you ever had the chance.
In hindsight, I wish I’d have brought my family tree project to enter as an exhibit. It might have helped out the prosecution, made things simpler for the jury to understand.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 25
So, day two on the stand for me. I’m really rather tired tonight. Maybe I’ll skip school tomorrow. I know you wouldn’t approve, but I’m not sure that I care right now. Maybe and maybe not. Probably not.
It was funny how your eyes were pleading with me today, pleading with me to forgive you? To understand? I’m not sure. You’re about as confusing as OJ. It’s funny how neither of you “did it”. You’re so silly. Both of you.
Dear Mr. Piani, March 30
I’m back in school again. I hope you’re enjoying the rest of your trial. It’s probably strange having your best friend testify against you, but at least you get to see one another. That should count for something, right?
Dear Mr. Piani, April 1
I just wanted to let you know that I decided to change my testimony in your favor. Hopefully that will sway the jury’s minds towards “Not Guilty”.
PS Do I really need to say “April Fools”?
Dear Mr. Piani, April 6
I had a nightmare last night. My mother was there, and she was still alive. You were there as per usual. I was there. Obviously.
Anyway, my mother was wearing a white dress, except there was this red stuff all over it. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was blood. And what were you doing? You were mad at her for ruining her dress. She groveled at your feet like she did that day. I can’t finish this. I just can’t
Dear Mr. Piani, April 8
The prosecution rests. Now it’s your turn.
Dear Mr. Piani, April 10
I hope your defense is going well. I bet your female lawyer is tearing things up. The prosecution is probably hiding under their table.
Hope your blue suit is holding up.
Yours, Angela April 18
Dear Mr. Piani,
Matthew Carson finally asked me to the prom. You remember Matthew, right? Long hair. Piercings. Combat boots. Bad attitude.
Of course I had to say yes. Normally my mother would have taken me dress shopping, but this year, thanks to your help, I get to go with some of my new friends’ moms. They all want me to choose them. They’re even buying my dress for me. So, thanks to you, I get a free dress.
Dear Mr. Piani, April 23
I skipped Math and met Matthew behind the school. And I just have to tell you, pot is not rot. That used to be one of your favorite anti-drug sayings.
Pot is actually quite smooth. And it made me stop missing my mother for about an hour.
Dear Mr. Piani, April 24
Skipped math again. Smoked some pot. Made out with Matthew.
Matthew says he’s going to get a hotel room for prom night.
Dear Mr. Piani, April 28
Your defense didn’t spend very long defending you, not like the prosecution did, presenting my mother’s case. The jury’s out.
I bet you’re feeling pretty anxious right about now. I wouldn’t worry, if I were you. You already know you did it, so it’s not going to be a surprise when 12 other people agree with you.
Dear Mr. Piani, April 29
The counselor pulled me out of Math today. I was mad at her, because I’d actually planned on going to class today instead of smoking pot with Matthew. Have I mention ed that we’ve moved from first base to second?
Anyway, the counselor said you’d been found guilty. What a shocker. Yes indeedy. Shock me. Shock me.
I didn’t even cry. I felt nothing at all. My counselor is afraid that I’m not expressing my emotions like I should, but I reassured her that this is just the inevitable. Just like killing my mother was inevitable. Just like you being in prison the rest of your life is inevitable. Some things just “are”, you know?
Dear Mr. Piani, May 3
I was able to make it to your sentencing. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. It was a riot when you started crying. When the judge asked if you wanted to say anything on your own behalf, I never thought you’d actually break down crying. My mother was probably laughing up in Heaven right then. I’m sure God lets murder victims watch their trial on Heaven TV or something.
And the judge gave you life without parole. Sorry about that. I know you’d rather have gotten the death penalty, but well, God, my mother, and I discussed it and decided we’d rather have you here on earth where we can keep an eye on you. Plus, you have time to become a Born-Again Christian like criminals do.
Dear Mr. Piani, May 16
Sorry I haven’t written for a few weeks. The school has this requirement that we do our homework and show up to class. Stringent rules, if you ask me. Your best friend has been dropping me off at school himself. He’s so parental. You’d be impressed.
At least he hasn’t killed anyone, yet.
Dear Mr. Piani, May 19
Life is sort of dull now that the trial is over. Some of my new friends are losing interest in me. Not Matthew, mind you. He’s more interested than ever. We got our tongues pierced yesterday after school.
Dear Mr. Piani, May 24
Do you know what today is? Think hard. I’ll give you a hint. Today was the last day my mother was seen alive. Does that help?
Dear Mr. Piani, June 2
Long time no right. I think I actually got mad at you for a couple of weeks, you know, the fact that you killed my mother and all.
Prom came and went. I came too if you know what I mean.
Dear Mr. Piani, June 8
My junior year ended with a bang, literally (under the bleachers during our final pep rally). I saw my counselor afterwards. She said it was the first time she’d seen me smile all year. Haha.
Dear Mr. Piani, June 12
I have the newspaper clipping with your picture at the verdict taped on my bedroom mirror. I like to look at you and wonder what it must have been like to hear those words. I like to make up my own monologue for you. Would you like to read some of it?
Int. sweaty courtroom filled with Mr. Piani’s friends and enemies (some who used to be friends and are now enemies).
Mr. Piani: How did they figure it out? I mean really? I was so careful. I wore gloves just like OJ. I made sure they were too big for my hands to throw the police off the scent. Oh, and I wore my blue suit on verdict day. You can’t lose in a blue suit.
Well, you think stuff like that when I’m planning your monologues. It keeps me occupied while Matthew is at work. He’s a team leader at Blockbuster these days. My man.
Dear Mr. Piani, June 19
Your wife came by the house today. She and your best friend went in the other room to have their whispered conversation. Never mind that her husband killed my mother. Why would I be offended that she was in the house?
Oh, does she come for conjugal visits? Do those really happen in prison? I hope you don’t pass on a VD to her. I’m sure you’re getting plenty of action on your own in the cell block. Make sure to use a condom. At least that’s what they tell us in sex education. Of course, abstinence is always better, but that’s probably not an option for you, is it?
Dear Mr. Piani, June 25
Your wife has been over a lot lately, usually when your best friend’s wife is at her club meeting. I guess your wife needs someone to talk to. I’m just glad she’s not talking to me. I’d have to laugh in her face for marrying such a joke like you.
Dear Mr. Piani, June 27
I don’t think they’re “just talking” anymore. I heard other noises this time. Maybe it’s time I found a summer job.
Dear Mr. Piani, July 2
Dear Mr. Piani, July 5
I guess I didn’t have anything to say to you last time.
Dear Mr. Piani, July 9
Your best friend’s wife gave me a nice plot of land in the backyard. It’s hidden on the back of the property under a hug walnut tree. Matthew Carson and I are starting our own pot crop. Look at me, being promoted from smokee to seller. Can you imagine? Am I making you proud? I bet I am.
Dear Mr. Piani, July 14
Does it frustrate you that I don’t respond to anything you write in your letters? Do you know why I don’t? Because I don’t even bother opening them. I march straight into your best friend’s office and shred each and every last one. Now that I think about it, I should have sold them to some ghostwriter, made some money off of you at least.
Well, I’m off to the store to buy some tape. I have a project.
Dear Mr. Piani, July 20
She spoke to me today, your wife. She admitted her affair with your best friend. She thought I’d get a kick out of it, you know, her getting back at you, in retribution for your killing my mother. I laughed right along with her. She thought I was on her side, but I could never side with anyone but you. It’s another inevitable.
So, laughing, I told her that I had a funny story to tell her about you. She didn’t think it was very funny, though. I guess it’s not natural for fathers to try and seduce their daughters.
Dear Mr. Piani, August 3
I don’t think I’m going to be writing to you anymore. Matthew and I are pretty busy with our booming business. I’ll be a senior in high school at the end of the month. One of my friend’s parent’s is paying to have my senior photos taken on the condition that I take my septum piercing out for the sitting.
I still think of my mother every day. I doubt that will ever change. I do have you to thank for something. I never quite appreciated her as much as I should have when she was alive. Now, I can’t help but appreciate her. I can’t help but think of her. I can’t help but be reminded that she was the light and you were the darkness in my life. I know she is much happier now that you are out of her life, out of our lives.
Finally, in other news, your wife has ended the thing with your best friend. He seems bummed, but I figure it’s inevitable. He hasn’t killed anyone yet, but now, there’s always your wife.
Monday, November 5, 2007
“Important? What could be more important than this?” Ace demanded. His temper really could flare when he didn’t get his way.
“Interrupting a police officer is not my idea of a good time. Besides, what are a few more moments going to hurt?” she asked. Ace scowled, as usual, but bit his tongue.
They were sitting on an old park bench next to the library on campus observing the crowd. College coeds milled around them, chatting about dates and classes to one another. A few hurried students entered the library as if their lives depended on it. Others looked as if they’d never stepped inside the library at all during their school tenure.
Callie watched the students while Ace zeroed in on the cop talking to Henry near a shade of trees. He wasn’t sure why Callie didn’t feel the same urgency he did, but he was used to this behavior from her by now. She was the laid back side of their duo, he the uptight taskmaster. It probably wouldn’t have worked out between them any other way.
“They do seem to be taking an awful long time,” she finally told Ace. “I wonder what they could be talking about?”
“You could go have a cigarette by that tree over there, you know, pretend to be a college student just having a smoke between classes.”
“I suppose I could pass as a college student,” Callie reasoned, “seeing as how I am a college student.” She gave Ace a look of annoyance.
“You stay here,” she ordered. “I don’t need you looking over my shoulder. That might raise suspicion.”
“Aye aye, Captain. I’ll stay here at my post,” Ace agreed. “Just hurry.”
Callie stood and hoisted the backpack she’d brought with her on her shoulder. She gave Ace one last look, then meandered over to the tree, careful to avoid the notice of the two men in question.
When she was safely in position, she looked over at Ace, who gave her a thumbs-up sign. As she lit up her cigarette, she let their hushed-tone conversation drift into her consciousness.
“How many times do I have to tell you, detective? I don’t know!” Henry was saying. He looked frustrated, gesturing wildly with his hands to make his point. “I’ve told you all I know.”
“There must be someone out there who knows where she is,” Detective Jin pushed, invading Henry’s personal space a bit more each time he spoke. “I can’t believe that you of all people don’t know. You are her boyfriend, Henry. You’ve already told me she confided everything to you. ‘Thick as thieves’ you said when we first interviewed you.”
“We were,” Henry replied, “are. We are. I don’t know where she is or who she’s with. It’s not like Addie to just disappear. I’m worried sick just like everyone else.”
“No, Henry. It’s her parents who are worried sick. You have no idea what this is like for them.” Detective Jin’s tone of voice grew more heated.
“I can’t imagine how they are feeling, Detective. I’d never presume to guess, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own emotions. Addie is everything to me and I’ll do anything to find her.”
A silence fell over the conversation. The two men were at a standstill. Callie nonchalantly puffed her cigarette, pretending to be oblivious.
Finally, Detective Jin spoke up. “I need to get back to the station. This conversation is over, for now. Remember, I reserve the right to strike it back up at anytime.”
“I know, sir,” Henry replied. “I’m all too aware.”
Detective Jin had been harassing Henry with questions every single day during the 22 days Addison McNamara had been missing. Both men knew this would continue until Addie resurfaced.
Jin tipped his officer’s hat at Henry in closing. “Good day.” With that he headed down the brick path away from the library towards his police car.
Seizing this opportunity, Callie dropped the remaining length of her cigarette on the brick and ground it out underneath her tennis shoe.
Now was her chance to speak to Henry. She signaled for Ace to join her as she made her approach.
“Um, excuse me?” she said. Henry swung around, planting his dark eyes on her face.
“Can I um, talk to you for a minute? I have something I need to . . .” He cut her off before she had a chance to finish her sentence.
“Leave me alone. I don’t know where Addie is. How many of you idiots are going to keep asking me that. You don’t know her. You don’t care about her. It’s none of your business.” He turned on his heel and started walking away.
Ace gestured manically for Callie to follow him. She let out a big sigh, then relented, chasing Henry down the path.
“But I’m not being nosy. I swear I’m not,” she told Henry. “I really just need to tell you something.”
“What could you possibly have to tell me?” he asked, but he stopped walking all the same. He turned to face her. Callie could see the sadness in his eyes masked by the anger in his voice.
“I, well, you see, my friend has something that he says might be important to you.” Callie looked at Ace for backup. He nodded his head for her to go on.
“See, my friend says that he has a message for you, from Addie.”
Henry’s jaw dropped. “What? What?” Anger infiltrated his whole body. “What kind of sick joke are you playing here?”
“It’s no joke,” she said, taking a slight step back from the angry guy.
“So, your friend knows where Addie is? Is he the one who took her, huh?” He grabbed Callie by the shoulders and started shaking her. “You know where she is? Tell me! Tell me!”
Callie felt tears slip down her cheeks. She also felt real fear. This was the first time someone she was trying to help had actually manhandled her. She looked to Ace for help, but she knew there was nothing he could do. She was on her own. This was her part of the job; she knew that. Ace gathered the information and she was the bearer of bad news.
“I don’t know where she is!” she shouted. By now, a few people passing by were giving them odd looks.
“Then how do you have a message from her for me? Huh?” Henry released her and turned away, physically blowing off some of his steam. His head was spinning. He no longer knew up from down. Everything that happened since Addie went missing was a confusion to him.
“My friend, Ace, he, well, he knows things.”
“He knows things. What, like he’s psychic or something?” A bemused smile took hold of Henry’s mouth.
“Something like that,” she responded. If she told him the real truth of the matter, he would never believe her. No one ever had before; she wasn’t about to start trying now.
“A psychic has a message for me from Addie?”
“Well,” he said shoving his hands in her jeans pockets, “let’s hear it. What does Addie have to say?”
“First, she says that wishes she had her bubble gum ring with her where she is.”
Henry seemed lost in a daze. “How did you know about that?”
“She told my friend. Does it mean something to you?” Callie watched as his anger turned to thought.
“A few months ago, Addie and I were in the grocery store picking up a few items. On the way out, there were a bunch of gumball machines. One of them had plastic jewelry in it. Addie joked that if she and I were meant to be together forever, a fake diamond ring would fall out of it if she put a quarter in. I gave her a quarter, and surprisingly, one came out.”
“Wow,” Callie said.
“Addie joked that it probably gave everyone a fake diamond ring, but I told her it was a sign. She was to be my wife one day.” Henry’s eyes were looking far off into the distance as if he was right there in that store with Addie.
After a moment, he continued with his story. “It was too small for her to actually wear, so she kept it in her jewelry box in her dorm. No one else knew about it. She said her friends would think the story was corny, so she didn’t tell anyone about it. Now, here you are, talking about it.” At last, his eyes focused on her.
“I told you, my friend got a message from her. She wanted you to know that wherever she is, she’s missing her ring. She’s missing you.”
Ace nodded his head, relaying to Callie that she was getting the message across, that she was telling Henry the right details.
“Is that all he has to say?” Henry asked, not quite buying the story, but realizing he could do nothing but believe what Callie had to say. No one else knew about the ring besides Detective Jin.
“Well, there’s one more thing,” Callie paused. Ace moved closer to her to provide support.
“What is it?” Henry’s voice was soft now. Quiet. Waiting.
“She told him where you can find her ring.”
Henry looked visibly shaken. When the police had searched Addie’s dorm room, the ring wasn’t in her jewelry box where she always kept it. Detective Jin had brought Henry in to the scene, asking him if there was anything missing. That’s when he’d told Jin about the ring.
“Where is it?”
Callie gulped, summoning all her strength. “It’s down by the river, near her special place, the one with the shallow cave and the rock she likes to sit on to think. She said only you and one other person know about it.”
“And her ring is there?”
“Yes,” Callie reiterated. “She wants you to go fetch it. She says that once you find the ring, you’ll find the answer.”
Henry took off running, not saying a word to Callie, leaving her and Ace far behind. He ran straight to Addie’s special spot without ceasing. He’d been there a dozen times already, sitting on that rock, talking to her, asking her where she was. Perhaps now she was telling him, by some weird twist of fate, through mouth of a stranger.
When he reached the rock, he looked around quickly, growing impatient when he found nothing, just as he had so many times before.
“Where can it be, Addie?” he asked aloud. “Show me where it is.”
As if in answer, he found himself wandering further along the lake, past the shallow cave, over a few rotted logs until he saw something up ahead. It was black and shiny. A piece of it was blowing in the wind. At closer inspection, he saw that it was a trash bag. A big trash bag. And lying next to it was Addie’s precious plastic ring.
The bag, the ring, Addie. All these thoughts were circling his head, threatening to come together, threatening to give come to a conclusion he wasn’t ready to make.
“Addie,” he cried out, bending before the trash bag. A faint smell of decay caught his nostrils. “Addie.”
Then, he knew. He knew.
Henry screamed and cried at the universe for taking his precious love. He did so for several minutes until he was cowering on the ground, spent and tearless.
He reached into his pocket and punched in a number on speed dial. As the number rang, Henry remembered something that girl had said.
“Only two people knew about Addie’s special spot.”
Henry was one of them. He immediately knew who the other person was. O my God. He knew who the killer was!
“Detective Jin,” came the greeting on the other end of the phone.
“Detective Jin, it’s me.” He was close to hyperventilating now.
“What’s wrong Henry?” Jin asked hearing the urgency in his voice.
“I found her. I found her,” he said over and over again. “And I know who did it. I know who you need to find.”
Meanwhile, back on campus, Callie, who had mildly recovered from her encounter with Henry, headed back to her car. Her spirit guide followed behind.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Our story is kind of like the movie The Goonies. We only have 5 days left until fate decides when we have to move out of town. In The Goonies, however, the ending is a happy one. The kids recover lost jewels and use them to keep their houses. We have no such choice.
The town of Sherwood was our ancestors' landing spot when they came to the New World so long ago. The dry desert Texas heat seemed to agree with them, so they chose to set up a new life here in Sherwood.
I can trace my father's ancestors all the way back to the beginning of Sherwood. That's how long we've been here. The Westons have built homes here, raised young, and are buried here. It would be a terrible shame if we could not continue to do so. It seems as if the end has come.
Twenty years ago, a man named Oliver Weston moved into Old Man Potter's place above the dry riverbed. Given his surname, we all assumed he was one of us, one of the original Westons.
At the time, there were about 6 families still living in Sherwood at the time. It had always remained a small town, but we had our own post office which made us official.
Oliver Weston came with his wife Christine and their adorable daughter Emma Jane.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Part I: Youth
“When is Mama coming home?” Lizzie whined. “She was supposed to tell me a story before bedtime. She promised.”
Nana looked down at the four-year-old in her lap and smiled. Lizzie had always been a willful child, seeming yet to have grasped that the world did not revolve around her. Nana knew that the birth of Lizzie’s new baby brother would certainly put in wrench in the little girl’s life.
“You mother is at the hospital, Lizzie. She will be there for a couple of days.”
“But she promised!”
“I know she did, but sometimes even grownups can’t keep their promises. Only God and Mother Nature knew when it was time for your baby brother to be born. Even Mama didn’t know.”
Lizzie looked defeated. Anger turned into confusion about this new baby brother her mother would be bringing home.
“How about if Nana tells you a nice story?”
“You will? You really will?” Lizzie’s eyes seemed to brighten for a moment.
“Of course I will, Lizzie Bug,” Nana said, relieved that she was finally getting through to her great-granddaughter. “Now, into bed with you and I will begin.”
Lizzie obeyed, climbing into her yellow canopy bed, the one she’d insisted she had to have when her parents had taken her shopping for her “Big Girl Bed”. She settled on her back, ready.
Nana tucked the covers around her great-granddaughter and placed Beatrice Bear next to her. Lizzie never slept without Beatrice, although she would deny it if any of the other children in the neighborhood asked.
Nana took a seat in the rocking chair that would soon make its way into the baby’s nursery. For now, though, it was the perfect place to tell a story.
“Are you ready, Lizzie?” Nana asked. She folded her hands and laid them in her lap.
“Yes, Nana,” She replied eagerly. This child certainly did love her stories. “What kind of story are you going to tell me?”
“Well,” Nana thought, “Would you like to hear a story about a very close friendship between two girls?”
“Best friends like Anna and me?” Lizzie asked, fidgeting under her covers.
“Not exactly, sweetheart, but sort of.”
“Okay,” Lizzie agreed. “Make it a good one!”
Nana began to rock, causing a slow rhythmic pulse to enter the room. It would eventually serve as a metronome for Lizzie, causing her eyes to at first flicker open and close, and finally close into a deep dreamless sleep. The story about to be told was more for her Nana than for her, anyway.
“Once upon a time, there were two girls just about your age, Miranda and Jane. . .
Miranda Randolph was a tomboy, willful and unafraid of anything that came in her path. As the only daughter in a farm family with five boys, her mother tried in vain to produce a young Lady, but Miranda fought it every step of the way. She always came home to supper with scabbed, bloody knees and dirt caking the lovely dress her mother insisted she wear every morning despite Miranda’s adamant protests.
Miranda was a beautiful child underneath all the dirt and grime. She had long, straight blonde hair that shone like honey in the sunlight. Her beauty was the envy of all the girls in the village. Every girl her age wanted to be her best friend, but for some reason, Miranda chose Jane.
Jane Smith was a slight, delicate child. Her long frizzy red hair was always tied in two plaits down her back. Compared to Miranda, Jane's face was pale, freckled, and rather unremarkable in feature. Her clothing was as plain as her name. . .
"Nana," Lizzie asked, interrupting the story, "if they were so different how did they become friends?"
"A very good question, Lizzie. I was just getting to that part," Nana replied. "One day, all the children of the village were playing a game of "Annie Over" . . .
There were two teams that day. Miranda and her brothers and Jane and her older sister were on one team, while another team of kids led by loud-mouthed Bradley Crawford stood directly across from them.
The rules of "Annie Over" are similiar to modern day Dodge Ball. One person from Bradley's yteam would yell "Annie" then throw a ball to a member of the opposite team. If the person doesn't catch the ball, that team is "it". If the person catches the ball, the teams switch sides.
That particular day, Bradley's team kept throwing their ball directly at Jane, because they knew she would never catch it. Over and over, they threw it at poor Jane.
Jane was close to tears out of embarrassment for not being able to help out her team. Miranda's brothers kept making mean remarks about how they should have never let her play on their team while Bradley's team kept taunting her saying, "Throw it to Jane Smith! She'll never catch it!"
The tears finally began to slip down poor Jane's pale face. She sniffled as quietly as she could, not wanting anyone to know she was crying.
Miranda was the only one who saw them. She immediately became angry and ran out between the two groups of kids.
"Stop being mean to Jane. All of you," she demanded. Her pretty face turning red with anger. Jane was taken aback. She was used to being picked on and having no one stand up for her.
"We're not doing anything," Bradley protested. "We're playing the game fair and square."
"Yeah," his friend Andrew Johnson said. "The rules don't say we can't keep throwing it at the same person." The boys slapped hands together.
"I don't care what the rules say, "Miranda said. "I'm quitting. This game isn't fun anyway."
"Yeah, it is getting boring," Bradley agreed. "Come on boys. Let's go play baseball without the girls."
"Good idea,"Andrew said.
The kids dispersed their separate ways. Jane's older sister, Joanna, came over to collect Jane to go home with her.
"Can't Jane come home with me for some tea?" Miranda asked her. Jane's eyes widened. No one had ever invited her over to their house before. She usually spent her time home in the kitchen with her mother or in the company of her older sister.
"I supposed Jane could do that," Joanna said, just as awed as her sister.
And that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
"That was nice of Miranda to stick up for Jane," Lizzie said.
"It certainly was. It's not nice to hurt people's feelings," Nana agreed.
"One time Billy Martin kept pulling Anna's pigtails and I told him to leave her alone!"
Nana smiled at Lizzie. "That was very nice of you. I bet Anna appreciated it."
"She did. That's how we got to be good friends."
"Oh my," said Nana. "It sounds like you and Anna have a lot in common with Jane and Miranda."
"Keep going Nana. Tell more of the story."
"Okay, Lizzie. So, from that day on, Miranda and Jane were inseperable . . .
They spent many hours playing house in Miranda's brothers' treehouse. The boys were angry at being kicked out of their own creation, but Miranda was firm. She and Jane got to use the treehouse every time the boys were off with their father or when they were playing baseball with Bradley and Andrew.
When they played house, Jane was always the mother and Miranda was always the father. They used Jane's doll, Clarie, as their child.
"I'm off to chop wood, darling," Miranda said to her "wife" in her deepest Daddy voice.
"Be careful," Jane said sweetly. "Clarie and I will be happy when you return."
The girls played like this for hours, living inside their heads rather than join in with the rest of the town children.
Day 1: I was brave by writing story that let's the reader decide their own interpretation of what's going on. Are they sisters? I she a figment of someone else's imagination? Only I know. Also, I never gave anyone an actual name except the smallest character in the whole story. Both are different from me.
Day 2: I wrote "Dear Abby" letters to Catholic Patron Saints. This was different because I am not Catholic and know nothing of their saints. Also, I incorporated my real like situations and feelings into the "question" part and answered myself with truths I already know but am afraid to admit/believe.
Day 3: I have chosen to take 2 paintings by John William Waterhouse and tell their tale. This will be the first time I have ever really written about same gender love. Another first and a good exercise in all!
Friday, November 2, 2007
1. Feral or Confined Children; either kids raised by animals, or children who were confined in their homes by their horrid parents.
2. A funny segment or episode in my own life (such as how I used to laugh so hard I’d pee my pants in high school–fun).
3. A serious segment in my own life.
4. A person (real or cartoony) that I consider a hero and why.
5. Letters to all my abusers
6. Fiction–Come across a personal diary, read it, and realize my character must find this person asap to rectify whatever is written in the diary.
7. Take lyrics to a song and make a story out of it.
8. Use my own real experience visitng Dachau (Concentration Camp) & write a fiction story about a woman who visits and a woman who died there, almost running into each other on those haunted grounds.
9. A haunted house tale.
10. Main character receives a letter from someone from their past–spends the whole story not opening in, wondering what it says, having flashbacks, then finally reads it, and it is nothing like the character expected.
11. Write a story in the style of a bible gospel about things I have learned from God, what He has shown me.
12. Write a fictional story about a child battling cancer and the courage they show us adults.
13. A child main character living in a tuberculosis ward where his/her parents are ill and they are not–being around death.
14. Find an inanimate object or an animal and write it's story.
16. Write about the last day on earth.
17. Someone wakes up from a coma after many years
19. Write a short play
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Dear Saint Erasmus (Patron Saint of Birth),
There have been many times in my life where I’ve wondered why I was even born. My mom actually got pretty tired of me saying “Why was I ever born? I can’t do anything right,” every time I got in trouble as a child. Since no one has ever given me a definitive answer, I figured I’d take a moment to write to you. You’re pretty good buddies with God and all.
Many thanks ahead of time,
Thank you so much for asking such an interesting question. You’d be surprised how often I get such simple questions like, “Why does my baby have two belly buttons?” or “Is it weird that my child was born with a tail?” It’s refreshing to have someone ask a serious question for a change, although tails can be serious.
When I broached the subject with the Almighty after our weekly Friday chess game, he chuckled as soon as I mentioned your name.
“Ah, that She,” he said, “always with the questions. Does she not know by now that she will get no answers by asking?” God seemed quite amused.
“By reading through her chart, I see that she’s thirty years old, Your Highness. Is it odd that she is still asking for the answer to a childhood question?” I asked.
“What she needs to realize is that I put her on earth for many reasons. Each of my humans has many reasons for their placement on earth. She will start to see the answers when she stops questioning everything that is placed before. The answer is inside her and all around her, just as I am.”
So, you see, God wasn’t very forthright with his answer, but I think what he’s trying to say, She, is that you should never question your purpose here or reason for creation. God made you special in his image. It is up to you to show others through your good works, what God has to offer the world.
I hope this answered your question.
Dear Eugene de Mazenod (Patron Saint of Dysfunctional Families),
My family is made up of a bunch of nuts. My mother has always been deeply depressed, has “martyr” syndrome, is very manipulative, and has tried to live vicariously through me in the past. My father is a quiet, laid-back man who allows my mother to wear the pants in the family. He always backs her up on things, even when he knows she is wrong. Then there’s me, who has been a mess since birth. I came out of the womb with my hands in fists and haven’t let go since. I was greatly annoyed at the birth of my brother, 5 years after my entry into this world. The only use I had for him is that I wanted to see his penis. As a 5 year old, I was just learning about such things, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Mom wouldn’t let me. Beyond that, my brother and I have both been diagnosed as Bipolar. So, we have “Martyr Mom” “Ignoring Dad”, “Bipolar She” and “Bipolar Bro”. Why are we such a dysfunctional family that can’t ever seem to fully get along?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, although I’ll deny it if ever questioned on it. God has his own version of “The Sims” up in Heaven, although it’s aptly named, “The Humans.” This is where he matches up the souls that He creates with other dysfunctional souls. He has a great time up there laughing with John the Apostle and even Jesus on certain occasions. For instance, remember when you were applying to college and your mom said that she’d take you to Disney World if you won one of 12 full-scholarships to your choice of college? And you won? Well, you weren’t actually supposed to win, but God thought it would be funny to mess with all of your minds by giving it to you! First, you thought you were smarter than you really are. Heh. God got a good laugh out of that one. Then, your mother was forced to follow-through on her promise, which she did, but begrudgingly. But, the best part of the whole thing is that that annoying girl you went to college with, Cindy? Remember her? The President of all the clubs, everyone’s best friend, “the girl that was going places”? Well, she really thought she was going to get the scholarship and God thought it would be SUPER funny to give it to you instead of her. And boy was it! You should have seen her father’s face when she only got a lesser scholarship, but the kicker was when he came up to you at the final choir banquet senior year and asked you, in a snotty tone, if you got one, knowing full-well in his mind that there was no way you could have. The look on both of your faces was priceless when you proudly declared your win and he had to tuck his tail (and he was born with a tail—ask Saint Erasmus) between his legs and stalk back to his family’s table.
So you see, God does indeed place us where he wants us to go. Some people get placed where they should go. Others, like you, are placed at whim. Oh well, at least your life has been interesting.
In God’s Love,
Saint Eugene de Mazenod
Dear Saint Catherine of Siena (Patron Saint of Anorexia),
I’m a 30-year-old female. I’ve suffered two bouts of extreme anorexia in my life as well as have been eating-disordered for much of the rest of the time. I do not like food. I never have. I wish I didn’t have to eat to live. I know that I would start losing weight if I started eating, as I have practically no metabolism because of this, but it is still so hard. I’m not “sick” enough to get eating disorder counseling, but I live with these traits every single day.
Back with you lived on earth, you had much the same problem. Can you give me some pointers on how to not do this?
You are quite correct. When I was a nun on earth, I routinely denied myself sleep and food. People today would call it insomnia and anorexia. What little I did eat, I would often vomit back up. I was especially known for my ability to have long fasts. I believed I was doing this for Christ the Lord. Today’s doctors would argue that my death at 33 by a stroke was caused by my lack of nutrition. I simply say that the Father called me home at the same age as Jesus.
So, I can’t really help you out in terms of how to eat better. I always found fasting much more satisfying. Perhaps I can show your letter to a friend up here, Thomas Aquinas. He was so large from food that he had small semi-circles cut in his table so that he could get closer to the food. I’ll see if he can send you a response.
Good Luck my Child,
Saint Catherine of Siena
Dear Saint Maria Goretti, (Patron Saint of Sexual Assault)
You were assaulted at age 19. I was assaulted at age 22. Your testimony says that you were able to forgive the man that did this to you. Not only did he try to rape you, but he choked you and stabbed you several times. You survived in the hospital for two days then passing away, but not before you forgave your attacker. It’s been much more than 2 days for me, almost 8 years in fact. How am I supposed to forgive someone that premeditatedly drugged me and raped me? How can I forgive him for taking away 7 years of my life before I was able to confront this horrible event? How can I be happy for him that he is married while I am still alone? Please, St. Maria, any guidance would be helpful.
Forgiveness is all relative. One person may be able to forgive quickly because they know that that is God’s will for them. It may take others quite a while to process the event. I only lived two days and I knew my Heavenly Father was calling me home. I didn’t have much time to be angry over this event. I was happy that I would be going to Heaven. I knew that this terrible event was going to in turn cause this wonderful event, my ascent to Heaven. You will find this own parallel in your life. This terrible event has caused you to seek out other survivors. You’ve made your own Survivor Website and Message Board to help others and you are making a horrible thing into a way to make change. I think you are already on your way to forgiveness of your rapist, but first you must forgive yourself.
Sending you peaceful dreams,
Saint Maria Goretti
Dear Saint Catherine of Sweden (Patron Saint Against Abortion),
As you know I was raped in 2000 and decided to have an abortion as a result of becoming pregnant. I know that God has forgiven me many times over, but I am still learning to forgive myself. I feel that I made the best decision I could at the time and that God knew what was in my heart.
Will I ever be able to fully forgive myself? I am worried that although God has forgiven me, if I become pregnant again, He will punish me by causing me a miscarriage or my baby will be born with some kind of ailment. I’m terrified of this. What should I do?
The God of the New Testament is not a punishing God but a teaching God. If you have already learned your lesson, He will not have to re-school you again. God is the only one who knows what kind soul will get to inhabit your motherly body if/when you are ready for a child. Trust in Him.
All My Love,
St. Catherine of Sweden
Dear Holy Innocents (Patron Saints of Babies),
I have a very important question to ask, and I think you are just the young men to ask. I read that you were all condemned to death simply because you were male babies under the year of two, as King Herrod wanted the baby Jesus killed. It was simply unthinkable that this happened to you. My only solace is that you were able to join God in Heaven when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
Because you were completely innocent of sin and any wrongdoing, I would like to know if my little soul is up there in Heaven too? I’d like to think she is.
We appreciate your choosing us to write too. It’s not often that we are called upon.
In Ezekiel 18:4, God says, “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.”
Since your little soul was completely innocent and without sin, we believe he/she is here with us in Heaven. Someday, if you repent for your humanly sins, you will see your child again.
With eternal love,
The Holy Innocents
Dear St Genesius (Patron Saint of Performers),
Thank you for watching over my friends and I as we perform in our shows. I ask you to please keep the “Sisters” in “Nunsense” in your vision as they spread the joys of Catholicism for the next month.
As a performer in my time, I came to my Sainthood in the middle of a performance for Emperor Diocletian in Rome. I portrayed a catechumen about to be baptized in a play satirizing the Christian sacrament. In the midst of the ceremony I felt God’s calling and converted to Christianity. When presented to the Emperor, I declared my Christianity. Diocletian was enraged and turned me over to Plautian, prefect of the praetorium, who tortured me in an effort to force me to sacrifice to the pagan gods. When I persisted in my faith, I was beheaded.
Not only do I serve God, but I watch over fellow performers. Letter your Little Sisters of Hoboken know that I’ll be watching.
Break a Leg,
St Valentine (Patron Saint of Lovers),
It is of you that I ask my final question. As you know, I’ve had a tumultuous love life. At 30, I finally feel that God has handed me the one I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with. If this is true, please watch over us as God watches over our love. I want to finally be happy with the one who completes me.
I too hope you have found the love of your life, next to God of course (that’s a little Heavenly humor). I will gladly watch over you and your loved one and give it my blessing.