A Memory for the Future - TheRealLJIdol - Week 21

George stands on the edge of the Hackensack River looking at a memory.  A memory that helped shape him into the man he is today.  A memory that brought him lifelong friends.  Brothers that stood by his side during the most trying times of his life.  A memory that led him to meet the woman of his dreams and fall in love.  A memory that he has shared with his children on countless occasions.  And a tear rolls down his face...


George and Harry had been friends since they met in RTC.  Neither one knew anyone in boot camp and they became fast friends.  They had both been very active before signing up for the Navy so they bonded over how intense yet invigorating this experience was for them.  The training was difficult.  Early mornings, grueling activity and endless orders.

George and Harry were standing in front of the USS Ling.  She was the Naval warship where they were going to be doing their training.  They couldn’t believe how beautiful she was.  Even though she was almost 20 years old, she still looked amazing.  Their friendship turned to brotherhood as they trained on that ship.  They were a family... George, Harry and the lovely Ling.

They spent many days aboard that ship.  She was good to them and when they discussed what they were going to do after they finished their tour, Harry finally confessed to George that he planned on dedicating his life to the Navy.  This took George by surprise because he and Harry had spoken about settling down in the same neighborhood together with their future wives, raising their future families, but he understood.  The USS Ling had made an impression on them both and Harry felt that he could help continue her legacy.

When George left the Navy, he and Harry vowed to stay in touch, and they did for many years.  He was the best man at George's wedding, the Godfather of both of his children and his oldest friend.  Every time Harry took leave, he made sure he and George were at least able to meet for coffee and catch up.  Goerge asked him many times if he would ever get married himself and Harry always replied, "I don't know if any woman will ever measure up to my lovely Ling."  Eventually one woman did and George was finally able to be the best man.  Even though most of the time they were in very different places, George and Harry's friendship never faded.  They thanked their time on the USS Ling for that.

Then one day, while having dinner with his wife and children, George got the phone call he had always feared.  Harry had been killed in the line of duty.  George almost dropped the phone as Harry’s wife relayed the details of the funeral.

That night he told his children about his time with his dear friend.  As he showed them photos, he came across one of him and Harry leaning on a rail and smiling aboard the USS Ling.  He told his children that someday he would take them to see the astonishing ship in person.


... George cries as he sees what has become of his memory.  She is wounded and surrounded by garbage and brambles.  The beautiful Naval warship that was awarded a battle star for World War II service.  The amazing warship that was used to train countless Naval personnel who went on to do amazing things and/or give their lives in the line of duty.  George cries because he remembers his fallen friend Harry and knows that if he was still alive he would be in tears too.  George cries because he sees the remains of a broken friend.  Will they save her?  Will their plans work?  Will the USS Ling ever be restored to her former glory, or like so many other war veterans, will she be forgotten and left to fend for herself after giving herself for her country?  As he stands on the edge of the bank, looking at his memory he wonders about the world today and how many more of his brothers and sisters are going to be joining her in the near future.  He cries for those yet to be abandoned.  He cries for those yet to be forgotten.  He cries for the future and the memory sitting before him.

Link:  http://weirdnj.com/stories/abandoned/uss-ling-hackensack/

The Appointment - TheRealLJIdol - Open Topic - Week 20

Carrie and Mandie were headed to Salem for the big Halloween celebration.  They had saved up for months and couldn’t wait to get out of their small Minnesota town for a week of haunted fun with one of their old friends.

“Are you sure Jen doesn’t mind us staying at her place?”

Carrie looked over from the passenger seat, “I’m totally sure!  She’s so excited to have the ‘three musketeers’ back together again!”

“But we haven’t seen her since high school.  People can change a lot in five years.”

“Don’t worry so much.  As soon as we get there it will be just like old times!  Besides, we haven’t changed THAT much and we talk on Facebook all the time!”  Carrie said grinning.

“Well, we know Jen hasn’t changed.  She always talked about moving to her ‘true home’ ever since she read that book on witchcraft in fifth grade.  I wonder if she’ll try to get us to convert again.”

“Or use that old Ouija board she got from the toy store.”

“Hasbro does hold the corner market on the spirit world,” Maggie snickers, and both girls erupt into laughter.

“Mandie!!  Carrie!!  Oh!!  My!!  Goddess!!  I can’t believe you’re really here!!”  Jen yells out the window of her apartment.  In what seems like seconds, she is out the front door of the building with her arms wrapped around both of them, nearly knocking them over.

“Stand back.  Let me look at you two!”  Jen scans them as Maddie and Carrie twirl on the sidewalk.  “You guys haven’t changed one bit!”

“I see your color choices haven’t changed either,” Maggie jokes.  Jen is dressed in a tight black tank top, black jeans and blood red Doc Martins.  Her hair is a mix of purples and blues with a few streaks of red and her arms and neck are covered in leather straps and other bangles with one gleaming pentacle right in the middle of her chest.

“You know me.  Child of darkness and all things magical,” Jen winks.

The girls catch up as they bring their things up to Jen’s second floor apartment.

As Maddie and Carrie are unpacking, Maddie notices someone standing across the street.

“Looks like he’s getting a jump on the celebrations,” she says to Carrie, nodding at the shrouded figure.

Carrie follows Maddie’s gaze and sees the figure raise its arm to point at the women.

“Is he pointing at us?” Maddie asks.

“He can’t be.  How could he see us from all the way over there?”

The figure did not move, only pointed.  The girls felt a shiver go up their spines.

“Hey Jen!  Can you come over here?”  Carrie calls.

Jen comes into the room and sees her frightened friends.  She looks out the window to where they are staring.

“Who the hell is that and why is he pointing at you?”

“We thought you knew him.  He’s not one of your friends?”  Maddie asks, her voice wavering.

“No.  Not at all.”  Jen says as she opens the window.

“Get out of here you freak!” she yells.

She looks back at Maddie and Carrie trying to reassure her friends that it is probably just some tourist getting a jump on the celebration, but she can’t deny the eerie feeling that is lingering in the back of her mind.

Over the next few days the girls go everywhere together.  They get dressed up and mingle with the crowds of people flowing in to celebrate Halloween in Salem, but no matter where they go, the figure keeps showing up.  Every time Maddie and Carrie are next to each other, he raises his hand and points at them.

They try going to a police officer standing on a street corner, but as soon as they go to point the figure out, he’s gone.  The officer thinks it is just another Halloween prank and laughs it off, telling the girls to have a “spooky” night.

By the fourth day of their trip, Maddie and Carrie are so uneasy that they explain to Jen that they are going to cut their trip short and leave the next day.  Jen tries to convince them to stay, but her friends are just too scared.

“I can’t explain it.  I know everyone is dressed up, but there’s just something not right about that guy,” Maddie says to Jen.

“Yea.  Every time he points at us I feel my hair stand on end,” Carrie agrees.

Jen can see the fear on her friends’ faces and she understands why they feel the need to leave.

“Call me as soon as you get home and we’ll make plans for you guys to come down and visit again,” Jen says as she hugs her friends goodbye.

“We will.  I’m so sorry, but I just can’t shake this feeling that something is very wrong.  Are you sure YOU are going to be ok?”  Carrie asks.

“I’ll be fine.  I deal with this stuff all the time,” Jen replies.  She can’t help but feel a bit relieved.  The figure never pointed at her, just Carrie and Maddie.  “If I see him again, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.”

“Oh, please don’t!”  Maddie exclaims.  “Just stay away from him, and if he comes near your apartment again, call the police!”

“I swear I’ll be fine.  It’s you two I’m worried about.  Get home safe and text me when you stop for the night.”

“We already have a reservation at a Holiday Inn in Chicago.  We’ll text you when we check in!  Love you!”  The girls wave as they pull away from Jen’s apartment and head for the highway.

As Jen turns around, she sees the figure standing in the alley next to her building.  Mustering up all the strength she can, she storms over to him,

“Who the hell are you and why are you following me and my friends?”

Jen realizes immediately that the voice that responds is not human at all.

“I am not following you.”  Death says calmly.

Jen’s mouth falls open as fear grips her.

Death continues, “I was just surprised to see Maddie and Carrie here.  I have an appointment with them tonight near a Holiday Inn in Chicago.”

We’ll Just Consider it an Adventure… - TheRealLJIdol - Invitation

Matt and Jennie were on their way to a small bed and breakfast in the country to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary when suddenly they got a flat tire.

“Jennie, honey, do you have any cell reception?  I can’t get any bars on mine.”

“Nothing.  Did you find the spare?”

“We never replaced it when we got that flat last month.  I meant to do it, but it totally slipped my mind.”

“Well what are we supposed to do now?  We haven’t seen any type of civilization for miles and not one car either!  We can’t spend the night HERE!”

“Calm down sweetie.  Let’s not let this ruin our vacation.  We’ll just consider it an ‘adventure.’  Besides, maybe if we just wait, someone will pass and we can flag them down.”

An hour or so later, an old pick-up truck came cruising down the road.  Matt jumped up from the trunk of their car and started to wave his arms, hoping the driver would stop.  Not many people picked up stranded strangers on the side of the road these days, but the truck slowed down and eventually came to a stop next to their broken-down car.

“What seems to be the problem?”  The strikingly handsome gentleman behind the wheel asked Matt.

“My wife and I were on our way to the bed and breakfast a few towns over and we got a flat.  Do you know if there is a mechanic around here that could give us a tow?”

“Oh sure!  My son just so happens to be a mechanic, but he’s working until seven.”

Matt looked at Jennie.  It was only four and the light drizzle was turning to rain.

The gentleman continued, “My wife and I have a farmhouse about a mile up the road.  I could give you a lift back to our house and you could use our phone to give him a call.  I’m sure he could have you all fixed up and back on the road by tomorrow morning.”

Normally Jennie and Matt wouldn’t even consider getting in the car with a stranger, not to mention entertain the idea of spending the night at their house, but it was starting to rain and they would be back on the road in the morning.  It was an adventure after all.

“That sounds wonderful.  We really appreciate it.  My name is Matt and this is my wife Jennie.”  Matt said as he reached his hand out.

“No worries.  My wife and I are always willing to help someone in need.  So many people have helped us over the years, it only seems right to pay it forward.  My names Tom by the way.”  He said, meeting Matt’s handshake and getting out of the truck to help them with their bags.

“Sugar, I’m home, and you’ll never guess what I found stranded on the side of the road!”  Tom yelled as he opened the front porch door and carried Matt and Jennie’s bags inside.

“Oh, please tell me it was a traveling salesman with loads of butter because I just ran out.”  His gorgeous wife replied as she came in from the kitchen, mixing bowl in one arm, spoon in the other.

“No dear, this lovely couple was on their way to that fancy bed and breakfast and they got a flat.  I offered to let them use our phone to call Jimmy.”

“Oh goodness!  You two must be cold.  I’m Rose.  I’d shake your hand, but I’m just covered in flour.”  She said with a welcoming smile.  “Why don’t you two go into the den and warm up by the fire.  The phone is on the end table.  Tom, would you be a dear and get them some towels and Jimmy’s number?”

Matt and Jenny followed Tom into the den and sat by the fire while they waited for him to return.

“They seem like such a young couple to have a son who is already a mechanic.”  Jennie whispered.

“They do!  And I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but they’re both so attractive!”

“I know!  I was thinking the same thing!” Jennie giggled.

“I’m glad we took the ride.  They seem like nice people and who knows if another car would have passed.”  Matt replied.  Jennie nodded in agreement.

Tom was back with two towels fresh from the dryer and a phone number scribbled on a scrap of paper.  He handed it to the couple.

“Please excuse me, I need to help Rose in the kitchen.  Just tell Jimmy that I gave you his number.”

Matt picked up the phone while Jennie started drying her hair.

Rose was standing at the refrigerator getting some iced tea for their guests when Tom walked in.

“Did you see the legs on her?  She must be a runner.  So shapely!”

Rose turned and looked at Tom, “I agree!  The moment she walked in I just wanted to eat her up!”  They both blush a bit when she says this.  “And the back on him is just divine!  He’s so muscular!  They must take really great care of themselves.  Did you offer to let them spend the night?”  Rose’s eyes twinkled.

“I mentioned it in passing but I didn’t want to scare them off.  They really are a good-looking couple.”

“They’re a little younger than the couples we usually try this with, but that may end up being a good thing.”  Rose winks.

Rose and Tom go into the den with a tray of iced tea and some hot soup.  Matt and Jennie are sitting on the couch near the fire.  Both still a bit damp but noticeably more comfortable.

“Did you get a hold of Jimmy?”  Tom asks, placing the tray on the coffee table and sitting on the couch across from them.

“I did, but he said he wouldn’t be able to tow it to his shop until he got off of work.  Is there a hotel nearby?”  Matt asks.

“Oh, don’t be silly.  We have plenty of room here and Jimmy could work on your car tonight and have it ready for you in the morning.”  Rose exclaims.

Matt and Jennie exchange playful glances, checking with each other without saying a word.

“If you’re sure we wouldn’t be an inconvenience.”  Jennie replies.

“Not one bit!  We don’t get much company out here and I can’t remember the last time Tom and I had a double date!”  Rose practically sings.  “Now eat up!  You two look famished.”

Matt and Jennie dive into the soup.  They didn’t realize how hungry they were.

“This is delicious!”  Matt exclaims.  “What’s in it?”

“Rose will never tell.  She calls it her ‘People Pleaser Soup.’”  Tom responds.

“Don’t get too full though.”  Rose interjects.  “We would love to have you for dinner if you’re feeling up to it.”

“That would be lovely.  We haven’t had a nice dinner with such a gorgeous, I mean, lovely couple in far too long.”  Jennie says blushing.

Tom and Rose exchange an excited glance.

As Matt and Jennie finish up, Rose starts putting the dishes back on the tray.  As she picks up Jennie’s bowl she lets her hand brush against her shoulder.  Jennie looks up at Rose and the women share a shy smile.  Rose picks up the tray and walks into the kitchen.

“How would you guys like some wine?”  Tom asks.

“We would love some!” The couple practically says in unison.

“I have a great bottle in the cellar!  I’ll be right back!  Rose grab the ‘special’ wine glasses!”  He shouts over his shoulder as he hurries out of the room.

Matt looks at Jennie.  “Do you think they want to, you know?”

“It seems that way, don’t you think?”  Jennie giggles.

“Well we did say we were going to have an adventure.”  Matt responds.

“Just promise me that we’ll set up rules beforehand like we did last time.”  Jennie says with a smirk.

“That’s what the wines for!”

Rose comes in with a new tray with four beautiful wine glasses on it as Tom enters, wine and corkscrew in hand.  He pours them each a glass and Rose hands the younger couple theirs.  They all toast to ‘making new friends’ as they chat.

About halfway through their second glass, Matt and Jennie notice that Rose and Tom have moved to the couch with them.  Tom squeezes Jennie’s thigh as Rose rubs one of Matt’s broad shoulders.

“You two are absolutely stunning.  How are you feeling?”  Rose asks.

As Rose says this, Jennie realizes that she feels a bit more tipsy than usual from red wine, especially since it’s only her second glass.  She looks over at Matt and notices that he is starting to pass out.  Jennie tries to respond but she can’t open her mouth to get the words out.  As she fades into the blackness she hears Tom’s voice.  It sounds so far away.

“Who should we have first?”

“Definitely Matt.  Jennie seems more like dessert to me.”  Rose says as Jennie falls completely under.

Jennie wakes up in what looks like a kitchen, but she doesn’t recognize it at all.  How did she get here?  Where is Matt?  She tries to move her arms but realizes that she is strapped down.

“Don’t struggle honey, it will only make things worse.”  It’s Rose’s voice she hears and she starts to remember their ‘adventure.’

“What have you done?!?  Where is Matt?!?”  Jennie mumbles.

Tom and Rose break into hysterical laughter.  “Why he’s right here, dear.”  Rose waves her hand across the table.  “We haven’t had a harvest like this in weeks.  Nobody ever comes down our road.  We lay the spike strips, but they only work if there’s a car.  That soup you ate was the last of our reserves, but you two should feed us for a good while.”

Jennie looks down to see a large meal spread out across the entire table with a huge slab of meat right in the middle.

Jennie starts to cry, “What about Jimmy?  He’s going to come for the car.”

“There is no ‘Jimmy’ silly girl.  That was Tom on his cell.  He towed the car to that ‘lovely’ bed and breakfast you two were raving about.  Nobody will even notice it until next week.”  Rose sneers.

“This can’t be real!!  Where is Matt?!?”  Jennie is panicing.  She looks around and sees the sink full of blood, Matt’s clothes cut to pieces in a pile on the floor, his wedding ring sitting neatly next to her fork.  She is drugged and alone with these crazy people.  Nobody will look for her here, and even if they did, how could they even suspect this unassuming country couple are cannibals?!?

“We told you that we’d love to have you for dinner,” Rose laughs.  “Maybe even breakfast and lunch too.  Why don’t you have a taste?”  Rose shoves a forkful of meat into Jennie’s mouth.  Jennie spits it onto her lap.

“Is that any way to treat your husband young lady?”  Tom smirks as Jennie fades back into the blackness.

Nevermind - TheRealLJIdol - Week 17


I look at this word and the first thing that comes to mind is grade school.  Those moments when I would ask a friend if they thought “so-and-so” might “like-like” me and they would get all giddy.  Asking me if I want them to find out, send “so-and-so” a note, ask his friends, and I just giggle and reply, “Nevermind.” Knowing that they will do one, if not all of those things and maybe I’ll find out that “so-and-so” does “like-like” me back.  One simple word and a laugh, and my friends were on the case!!

I dig deeper.  Searching for a fun way to work this word into a story, but I realize that my initial love for the word was fleeting at best.  From where I’m sitting now, “nevermind” no longer carries a fun and exciting feeling.  It oozes with frustration, defeat and sadness.  It was a fun word though, right?  As a kid, there were a lot of fun words.  What happened to them?  When did they turn ugly?  When did they lose their innocent meanings?

“You got written up for having your sister hanging out in the store.”

“But she was my ride and she was only here ten minutes early.”

“As managers, we need to set an example for the other employees.”

“She only came in because she had to buy a few things.  Wouldn’t that make her a customer?”

“She is still your sister and it looks bad when you have 'friends' in the store.”

I open my mouth to protest, but the words aren’t coming out.

“Is there something else or can we all get back to work now?”

I want to say,

“I needed a ride because it was my day off and my car is in the shop.  You called me in and the only ride I had was her.  I wouldn’t have even been able to work today without her.”

I want to say,

“So, when would you like her to PURCHASE things from YOUR store?”

I want to say,

“When you said you wanted to have a 'managers conversation,' did you really mean that you just wanted to 'talk AT me' while YOUR boyfriend stands outside the door waiting to take you to lunch (irony at its best)?”

But instead, frustrated, I say,

Nevermind.  It won’t happen again.”

“I’ve finally made it back down to my high school weight!”

“You are really starting to look skinny, hun.  Is it because you’re sick?”

“Not at all!  I started watching what I’m eating and I’ve been working out!  I actually feel great!”

“You’re getting to be skin and bones.  Don’t take it too far.  Maybe you should go to the doctor and get some bloodwork done.”

I look down at the floor as my self-esteem drains…

I want to say,

“I’ve made lifestyle changes and I’m trying to be heathier!  Shouldn’t you be happy for me?”

I want to say,

“I’ve always been thin.  I’m not trying to lose weight.  I’m trying to improve my health and get in shape.  Don’t you want that for me?”

I want to say,

“Being 'skinny' and being 'healthy/psychically fit' are two different things.”

But instead, defeated, I say,

Nevermind.  I won’t, and I’ll call the office tomorrow for a full work-up.”

“How long was he home before he passed?”

“Eleven days.”

“Did they bring in full-time hospice nurses?”

“No.  The nurses only came a couple times a week, but my sister and I were here with him.”

“That must have been rough, but you’ve never been the “emotional” type.  Why did you do it if they could have gotten someone else?”

I look at my great-aunt with wide eyes…

I want to say,

“Because I loved him.  Because he took care of me and the least I could do was do the same for him.”

I want to say,

“Because it was an absolute honor for this man to ask me to be there for him in such a vulnerable moment.  To help him be comfortable and at peace in the end.”

I want to say,

“Why WOULDN’T I agree to do it?!?  It was what he wanted and I would do ANYTHING for him!!”

I want to say,

“It WAS rough!!  It was the hardest thing I have EVER done.  Do you really think I am so heartless that taking care of a person I love, KNOWING that they are going to DIE, didn’t and doesn’t make me sad?!?”

But instead, sadly, I say,

Nevermind.  I have calls to make and more family just got here.”

“Nevermind” has now become an escape word for me.  Instead of saying what I really feel, I side-step the conversation and bottle up the emotions it brings.  I use it to protect other people’s feelings.  I use it to try to be agreeable and not “rock the boat.”  I try to pull memories of using that word the way I used to when I was younger, but none come to mind.  All that keeps repeating are the many, many times I have let myself down by just conceding.  By just saying, “Nevermind.”
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June, Summer, Rayne - TheRealLJIdol - Week 16

The thunder claps outside and wakes Summer up. She is nine months pregnant and it is 1am in the morning. That’s when she feels the first labor pain. It is time. Her mother, June, has been staying with her since her boyfriend left eight months earlier. She calls out to June from her bed, but her mother is already opening her door.

“Sounds like she’s on her way!” She exclaims. She grabs Summer’s bag from its place by the door and helps her to the car.

Rayne is born at 10am on a sunny July morning. Her mother couldn’t have been happier. She is 8 pounds, 21 inches long and in perfect health. As they place Rayne on Summer’s chest for the first time she looks down at her beautiful baby girl,

“Welcome to the world little one.”

“Only you could bring Rayne on such a bright day!” June jokes as she places a hand on her back.

Both women look down at the tiny wonder that has just taken over their hearts.

“Do you think she has it?” Summer asks her mother, her eyes not leaving Rayne’s face.

“Is there really any doubt?” June replies. “She basically announced herself!”

Both women look at their new bundle of joy with love and excitement.

Rayne is an exceptional child. She is bright, loves the outdoors and has a way with animals that is unlike anything her mother and grandmother have ever seen. She also loves the weather. From a very young age, Rayne is obsessed with all aspects of nature. This comes as no surprise to Summer and June.

For her fifth birthday, they plan a family trip to the beach. Rayne had gotten a kite and is desperate to fly it. It is the only thing she has asked for, but when they get onto the sand, there is no wind. Rayne looks up at her mom,

“How do I make it go Mama?”

“Maybe we should wait and see if the wind picks up again,” Summer replies.

“Let her try,” June chimes in.

Summer looks at her mother with hesitation. Rayne is still so young, but her mother’s gentle smile of confidence wins her over.

“Rayne honey, set your kite in place and when you’re ready just put your lips together and blow.”

The two women watch as Rayne places her kite on the sand and takes a few steps forward. She looks back at them and they tell her to start running. As she runs, she hears her mother call out,

“Blow now baby! Just like the wind!”

Rayne puts her lips together and blows with all her might. Just like that, the wind picks up and her kite goes soaring into the sky.

“Look Mama! Look Meema! Its flying!” Rayne giggles with delight as she dances around.

“Great job sweetie! Make sure you hold on to it!”

Summer looks at her mother. She is smiling from ear to ear.

“I told you she had it,” June says to Summer. “Though I’ve never seen it so powerful in someone this young.” She doesn’t seem concerned, only pleasantly surprised.

Then they hear the clap of thunder and both women look over at Rayne. Just as they turn, Rayne falls in the sand and scrapes her knee. As her tears start to fall, so does the rain.

Summer goes and scoops her up as June gathered their things.

“It ‘boomed’ and then I fell down Mama,” Rayne sobs as they head home in the car.

“I know baby, but the ‘boom’ was warning you my love.”

“What’s warning mean?” Rayne asks, her tears subsiding, showing the glow of curiosity in her eyes.

“It means that when you heard the ‘boom’ it was telling you to be careful and that something was about to happen.” Her grandmother says.

Rayne wrinkles her nose and thinks about this for a second, “Like when I got my ouchie?” She asks, pointing to her wounded knee.

“Yes, but sometimes it’s warning you about something exciting too!” Her grandmother answers.

Rayne waves her arms excitedly, “Like when the ‘boom’ woke you up when I was coming Mama?” she squeals.

Summer has told Rayne about the night she had started her journey into the world. It is her favorite bedtime story.

Summer smiles at her daughter, “Yes, my love, just like that.”

As Rayne grows, so do her gifts. Just like her mother and grandmother, she is able to use the weather as a tool. She is even able to control it to a certain degree. Her small family teaches her how to listen to nature. How to hear and see things others cannot.

Rayne is outside in her garden when her mother and grandmother decide it is time to have the most important conversation of her young life. The thunder claps above her head and Rayne goes in and sits down at the table as if she has been called for dinner.

“Rayne honey, you’re a young lady now and there’s something Meema and I need to talk to you about.”

Rayne looks at them both, unsure of what is coming. Summer and June explain that they come from a long line of women who have all been gifted in the ways of nature. They tell her that it is a wonderful gift, but not one to be taken lightly. They explain how special these gifts make her and that she is not alone.

“There are many of us darling, and soon you will meet them.” Her grandmother explains.

“More people like us?” Rayne askes.

“Yes, my love. They all have different gifts, but they are very much like us.” Her mother says, smiling.

That weekend, Rayne meets her ‘extended family’ for the first time. Women from all over the world gather to welcome this special new addition to their group. They have already heard so much about her. Rayne even brings her first kite and all of the women take turns making it fly in different directions and patterns.

This becomes a monthly outing for the three generations of women. As the years pass by, more young ladies are introduced and Rayne takes them under her wing. Teaching them how to be good to nature and that nature would be good to them in return.

A few years later, early on a sunny April morning, a very pregnant Rayne wakes to the clap of thunder and mild labor pains. Her mother and grandmother are in her room in seconds.

Rayne looks up at them beaming, “Get my bag and start calling the family!” She exclaims. “Sounds like she’s on her way!”

Mender’s Toys to Mend the Heart - TheRealLJIdol - Week 15

The year was 1964.  Charles Mender and May Juniper were on their way to FAO Schwarz in NYC.  Their friend Susan had set them up because she knew they both had a love for toys, and Susan had a love for playing cupid.  She had tried setting them both up before, but nothing had ever come from her arrows of love.  This time, however, both May and Charles had immediately felt that spark.  They had so much in common and both confided in Susan that they found the other quite attractive.  When they discovered that they shared a passion for toys, it seemed as if the match had been made in heaven.

As they walked the busy New York streets, May and Charles made small talk.  Both were nervous and excited.  This was their first actual date.  When they arrived at their destination, May stopped to admire the store.  While Charles stood holding the door for her, he joked, “Are you just going to look at it, or are you going to come inside?”

May smiled and quickly walked through the open door with Charles right on her heels.  They spent hours walking the isles.  Admiring the craftmanship of all of the trinkets that brought such joy to children and adults alike.  They talked about how someday they wanted to own a place like this.  Where they could set up elaborate displays of hand crafted toys and watch the people come in and experience the same wonderment that they were feeling.

As their date was coming to an end and the store was closing, Charles passed a set of dolls that were in a special display case that read “ONE OF A KIND.  Please ask for assistance.”  He called May over and showed her the beautiful pair.  A male figurine made of oak and a female figurine made of different types of fabric patched together peered back at May through the glass.

“They’re perfect!”  She exclaimed.  “I love that they are a set, but are also so different.”  As she said this she looked up at Charles and in that moment their love for one another was sealed.  They called a salesman over and had the dolls boxed up.

On January 16, 1966, they were married.  The set of dolls they had purchased on their first date were pulled down the aisle by their flower girl.  It only seemed right to include them in their ceremony.

That year, Charles and May Mender opened ‘Mender’s Toys to Mend the Heart.’  It was their dream come true.  They kept their unique dolls from their first date on display in the middle of the store.  The dolls were not for sale, but people loved to stop and look at them.  The couple would spend each night setting them into different poses for the next day.  Charles had even made a little scene for them.  It mimicked the backroom of their toyshop, complete with mini toys, tools and even a work table with two chairs.  Though they loved all of the toys in their shop, these two had a very special, almost magical, meaning to them.  They represented the beginning of their fairy tale love story.  They became the heart and soul of the store.  No matter what kind of day Charles and May had had, when they walked into the shop the next morning and wiped down the display case, they were reminded of the love that they shared and it filled their hearts with happiness.

Over the years, Charles and May had many great times and also some tough times, but their love for one another only grew stronger.  When money was tight, Charles would pick up some side work doing construction and May would work as a seamstress, but their hearts always belonged to their store.

Their first major tragedy hit in 1973.  Charles was working in the shop and suddenly felt ill.  May called 911 thinking it was a heart attack.  The paramedics showed up and took them to the hospital.  When the doctor came into the room he was somber.  He explained to the couple that Charles had coronary artery dissection.  A condition which caused a tear in the artery wall of his heart.  Due to their fast actions, the doctor felt that Charles had a good chance of recovery, but the chances of it happening again were very high.  They discussed treatment options and set up an appointment for an EKG.  Two days later they received the results.  Charles had the heart of a 20-year-old.  The doctors were floored.  “It’s as if someone stitched your heart back together,” the doctor said as they were leaving.  “I’ve never seen anything like this before.  We’re going to need to do a follow-up, but honestly, everything looks fantastic.”  The doctor’s tone was astonishment.  May and Charles felt only relief.  After the follow-up appointment, Charles was cleared of any heart related issues and the couple went back to their little slice of heaven.

 In 1994, May was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  She had major scar tissue which was making it difficult for her heart to pump blood properly.  The doctors said she was going to have to undergo ventricular restoration surgery to remove the damaged tissue.  Though the original prognosis did not look good, the morning before the surgery, her scans came back clear.  The doctors said it was a miracle.  After her final round of testing, her doctor told the couple it was as if someone had “sanded the scar tissue right off of her heart.”  She went back for more tests just to make sure nothing had been missed, but she was in perfect health.

Charles and May celebrated in the same way they always did.  They went to their store and set up their dolls to replicate their own delight upon hearing the wonderful news.  The wooden male with his arms wrapping around the patchwork female, each resting a head on the other’s shoulder.

The year is 2016, and ‘Mender’s Toys to Mend the Heart’ is having a special celebration to commemorate their 50 years of being in business.  They are set to have a three-day sale with all the trimmings.  There will be decorations, a large area with tons of toys to play with and an hourly change of the positions of their treasured dolls to reflect the excitement of the store.  They are even going to take suggestions on how to pose the dolls.  Charles and May have just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary as well, so the starting position of the dolls will be a replica of one of their wedding photos, complete with mini versions of the dolls.

The next three days are a whirlwind of emotion.  Generations of people are visiting their store.  Showing their children and grandchildren all of the toys that have brought them joy over the years.  Couples stop in and hold hands as they look around.

Charles and May step back for a moment, hand in hand, remembering their first date and smiling as they see their dream fully realized.

After locking up on the last night of the celebration, May and Charles go over to their favorite display and open it.  They pose the dolls sitting on each side of the work table, both stretching a hand to the other.  They turn the display light on and head home, their hearts full of pride and joy, but most importantly, love.

As the store door closes, the wooden male doll stands up and stretches.  He looks at his beautiful patchwork wife and smiles.  They meet in the middle of the table and hug each other as they have done every night since being purchased by the Menders.

“Hand it over,” the wife says to the husband.
“You know we always do it at the same time,” he retorts.

They each reach into their chests and pull out their toy hearts.

His made of fabric, hers of oak.  His belonging to her, hers belonging to him.

They sit down at the table that was made for them and pick up their tools.  He sands down the rough parts as she stitches the tears.

“Do you think they know?” She asks as she sews.
“I doubt it.” He responds.
“I’m glad we chose them,” she says without looking up.
“I’m glad they chose us,” he says, smiling at his wife.

They chat as they work and just as the sun starts to rise they finish their tasks.  Husband and wife stand face to face as he places his freshly polished heart in her chest and she places her lovingly stitched heart in his.

“A sturdy oak heart for my strong and beautiful wife.”
“A soft plush heart for my sensitive and loving husband.”

The dolls embrace each other.  They never would have had this wonderful life together without the love of Charles and May.  The work the dolls put in every night is their only way of thanking them.  They sit back down in their chairs and get into position.  The wife looks at the husband,

“As the lovers mend one another’s hearts,” she says.
“Their love forever grows and they will never part.”  He finishes.

The Menders wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.  Their hearts repaired and full of love.  Even though they are both in their seventies, they still feel like spring chickens.  They get ready for their day and go open their magical store.  Charles notices May standing at the display case looking at their dolls.

“Do you think they know how much we love them?” She asks.
As he wraps her up in a hug, he whispers, “I know they do, honey.  I can feel it in my heart.”

Nyctophobia - Week 14


The entire bus is singing as Billy clutches his backpack waiting for his stop.

“It’s called Nyctophobia.” he mumbles under his breathe.

Jason, the tallest boy in their fifth-grade class (and the biggest bully) looks around with his finger pressed to his lips.

“What was that little baby?” everyone has stopped chanting as Jason leans over Billy’s seat waiting for a response.

“Nothing,” whispers Billy.

Jason laughs, knocking his backpack onto the floor. He goes back to chanting with the rest their classmates.



Billy gets off of the bus and runs to the library to escape the group of children. This has become his ritual ever since he went to that birthday party.

He has always had a fear of the dark, but ever since Jason’s party, he’s been having severe panic attacks that cause him to pass out. His mother took him to specialists and he was officially diagnosed with Nyctophobia, a fear of night or darkness. Even though the doctors knew the diagnosis, they still couldn’t find a concrete reason for his extreme reaction. They tried medication, herbal and pharmaceutical, but neither worked. His only comfort was light. That and the many books at the library.

“Why did they have to turn ALL of the lights off? Why did they have to close ALL of the curtains? Don’t they know what hides in the dark? It’s not like you can’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ with SOME light... Stupid monsters… Stupid panic attacks...” Billy mumbles to himself as he climbs the steps of the town library.
Once inside, he is greeted by Ms. Grace, the librarian, “Hello Billy. Another afternoon of reading?”

“Yes ma’am.” Billy smiles. She has always been nice to him. His mom says that Ms. Grace has the kind of smile that lights up a room and that’s why Billy likes her so much. She even lets him turn extra lights on when its dark and stormy. But most importantly, she doesn’t make fun of him.

Billy is in the science fiction section engulfed in a large book on monsters when suddenly Ms. Grace startles him,

“I think I might have just the book for you.”

He sets his book on the table and follows her down the hall to a locked door. He has never been in this section of the library before. Partly because you need to ask permission, and partly because there isn’t any light in this hallway. She opens the door and motions for him to follow her. Billy hesitates,

“Ms. Grace? Can you turn on a lamp please? I can’t see anything.”

Suddenly the room is filled with a bright light. Billy walks in and realizes that this is the room he has always been afraid of. The one room in the library that never has the light on. He has looked at the window from the outside almost every day that he’s come here, imagining the things that lurk in here, but not once has he ever seen the inside. It’s always too dark and the shadows play games with your eyes.

“Hello Billy.”

He whips his head around to see where the unfamiliar voice is coming from. Standing across from him is a Being made completely of light. He searches the room for his librarian.

“Ms. Grace?” His voice cracks in fear. As if reading his thoughts, the Being speaks again,

“Don’t be afraid child. Ms. Grace is just one of my many forms. I am a traveler of realms. I have visited thousands of places in my time, but I have never met anyone who loves the light as much as I. Until I met you.”

Billy’s mouth drops open, but he isn’t afraid. In fact, he actually feels comforted by this Being. He takes a moment before saying anything,

“You’re a traveler?”


“Where are you from?” Billy asks, fear being replaced with curiosity.

The being motions for Billy to follow. They go up to the library roof. Billy looks at the Being waiting for a response. Finally, it speaks,

“I come from a place where there is only day. Only light.”

“I wish I could go to that place!”

The Being smiles, “All you have to do is ask.”

Before he even has a chance to think Billy blurts out, “Can you take me to the place where there is no night and no darkness?!?”

“As you wish.” The being says and Billy feels a rush of wind as he closes his eyes.


Billy opens his eyes and is shocked to find that he is still on top of the library roof,

“It all looks the same. Are you sure we went somewhere else?”

He turns to the Being.

“Yes, indeed. Look around you.
The sun does not move. Never rising, never setting.
Look in the library window. There are no lamps or lightbulbs, yet it is still bright throughout.
Look at your feet. You no longer cast a shadow,” the Being glances around and makes a sweeping gesture with its arm.
“Nothing does,” it whispers.

“I can’t believe this!! No more monsters hiding in the dark!!” Billy’s excitement turns his voice to a squeal.

The being looks at him for a moment and starts to smile,
“Oh, no silly child, monsters still exist. You asked for a place with no night… no darkness, not a place with no monsters.”

Billy is speechless for a minute. He hadn’t thought to ask that.
“But it will be ok because it will always be light out, so there’s nowhere for them to hide anymore…” he trails off. His excitement is replaced by a hint of fear as the Being’s smile broadens.

“You’re right, there IS nowhere for them to hide…” The Being’s teeth gleam as its grin stretches from ear to ear. “But they’ve never had to in this place, and they will notice you soon enough. Remember, child, just like there is nowhere for THEM to hide anymore, there is also nowhere for YOU to hide.”

It laughs as Billy’s eyes widen and scan the ground. He turns to beg the Being to take him home, but it is already gone. Its laughter now a faint whisper in his ear.

Billy’s panic returns as he realizes that he is now alone in a new world…
A new world where the monsters are more real than ever…
A new world where the darkness he feared no longer exists…
A new world with nowhere for him to hide…
A new world full of light…

Diary of a.............

Thursday, March 2, 2017                               6:43am
Dear Diary Journal,
So, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do here.  The doc (you) said that this is supposed to be therapeutic or something.  I mean you’re the only one who’s going to be reading this.  You know I don’t like discussing my romantic life with you but whatever.  I don’t know how this is supposed to help people when THEY are the ones having trouble with THEIR relationship, but you’re the doctor so here goes…
I should probably give you a little background so you can understand Jessie and I better.
I met Jessica almost a year ago.  It was a cloudy Tuesday afternoon and her receptionist had called me up to their fifth-floor office to help with a computer issue.  I work on the third floor for an IT company and we did service for the entire building.  When they directed me to her office I thought it was going to be just like any other day, but then I saw HER.  I knocked on the doorframe,
“Come on in.  I’m sorry.  Just give me one second.”
She had her back to me and was trying to fax something.  Tall and thin, with red hair and the most beautiful voice I had ever heard.  The moment our eyes made contact we could just feel the connection.  Jessica and I made small talk as I fixed her computer, but you could tell there was something more between us.  As I was leaving her office she gently took my hand in hers and looked into my eyes,
“It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Joe.  Everyone talks about how great you are with computers, but the stories don’t do you justice at all.  Oh!  And by the way, you can call me Jessie.”
Her smile beamed and I couldn’t resist smiling back.
I need to get ready for work.  I’ll type more in a bit.
*saved*  7:24am
Thursday, March 2, 2017                               7:47am
Dear Journal,
So continuing…
Over the next few months we were e-mailing each other regularly.  Jessie would “have trouble” with something computer related and I would go up to her office so we could chat.  We talked about everything, and the more we talked, the more connected we became.  We liked so many of the same things.  Had so many of the same dreams.  I couldn’t believe that I had finally met the love of my life all because of a computer glitch!
At this point it had been six months and we were seeing each other at least three or four times a week.  Her company was upgrading their computer systems so it gave us an excuse to spend even more time together.  When I told her that I was looking into moving to an apartment that was closer to work she was so excited for me!
“That’s really great Joe!”
She was grinning when she said it and I knew it was because she knew we would be living closer to each other.  What she didn’t know was that I had put a deposit down on the apartment below hers and just needed the current tenant to finish their lease.  They were set to move out the end of February and I couldn’t wait to surprise Jessie!
When the day finally came, I was so excited nervous excited!  She knew I was moving, but I hadn’t told her where.  I knew the suspense was killing her but I was too excited about the surprise.  I mean, I had kept it a secret for this long, I couldn’t give in now!
I thought it would be cute if we just “happened” to run into each other one day while doing our daily routines.  In my head, it seemed so exciting!  “Just like in the movies!” I kept telling myself.  She’ll see you and realize that both of you really do want the same thing!  That all of those little “hints” she had been dropping had been heard loud and clear!  Women love a man who listens!
But she didn’t seem as excited about the move as I had hoped she’d be.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t upset…  I guess I just expected more.  We seemed to be moving out of the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship and were now reaching that “comfortable” quality you get with someone who really gets you.
Gotta leave for work now, but today is supposed to be a slow day.
*saved*  8:36am
Thursday, March 2, 2017                               12:02pm
Dear Journal,
This morning was busier than I expected so I’m writing on my lunch hour.
Jessie has been working late because her firm just got a really big case.  She’s amazing at her job and she’s worked hard to get to where she is, so I totally understand all of the late nights.  Besides, I spent most of the yesterday moving stuff in while she was at work so it’s not like I was around to see her either.  I ended up falling asleep on the couch pretty early.  Moving is exhausting.  Maybe I should have made more of an effort to see her.  Maybe she wouldn’t be so upset with me now.  SHE would have made the effort.
I just got a phone call and they’re telling me that I’m going to be out of the office for the rest of the afternoon.  I will try and write more when I get home tonight.
*saved*  12:29pm
Thursday, March 2, 2017                               11:17pm
Dear Journal,
Our first official “run in” was tonight.  I had just gone down to get my mail and Jessie walked in.  She was on her phone writing a text or sending another e-mail so she barely looked up when she walked on to the elevator.  I pressed my floor and waited for her to look up from her phone.
“Can you press 4 please?”  She said without looking up.  I didn’t want to ruin the surprise so I pressed it without saying anything.  I knew if she heard my voice it would give it away!  I stood next to her as she continued to type away on her phone.  For a second I thought about just saying, “Hi there beautiful.”  But it was our eyes that usually did the loudest speaking so I just held my breath.  When my floor *dinged* three I got out and right as the doors started to close I said,
“I hope you have a good night.”  She looked up just as the doors were closing and I saw that tell-tale tired smile on her face.  She had had a long day and really needed sleep.  At first I thought she might be ignoring me because I hadn’t said hello yesterday, but once I got to my apartment I realized that she was probably just exhausted and we were going to see each other tomorrow anyway.
*saved*  11:56pm
Friday, March 3, 2017                     7:47am
Dear Journal,
That brings us to today and I just realized it’s almost 8 and I have to leave for work.  I should have some time when I first get in, plus I should finally get a chance to talk to Jessie.  She usually leaves around 8:10.  I know she’s upset with me and I really hope she gives me a chance to explain.
*saved*  7:53am
Friday, March 3, 2017                     9:01am
Dear Journal,
So I think we had our first fight last night.  Jessie really gets upset when I watch TV too loud but usually I can tell when she wants me to turn it down.  She actually called the landlord on me.  I can’t believe she didn’t just come talk to me.  She must really be angry about me not coming to say hello to her.  Maybe I’ll be able to talk to her at some point today.
*saved*  9:17am
Friday, March 3, 2017                     11:16am
Dear Journal,
Jessie sent me an e-mail a few minutes ago about a problem she’s having with her computer.  She definitely wants to talk.  I hope she will listen to what I have to say.
*saved*  11:22am
Friday, March 3, 2017                     1:27pm
Dear Journal,
She didn’t even look at me!  I walked into her office like I always do and there she was but she didn’t smile… she didn’t wave or say hello… she just kept talking to Tiffany her stupid receptionist about how they’re going out for drinks tonight!  She totally knew I could hear her!  How could she spend OUR first Friday night in our new place together with her friends?!?  What is she trying to prove with this nonsense?  I moved for her!  I am the one who is making all of these changes for HER and she acts like she doesn’t even care!  What did I do to deserve this?  My boss is coming...

*saved*  1:57pm

Friday, March 3, 2017                     7:47pm
Dear Journal,
She still isn’t home.  I wonder how long she is planning on making my wait…  Is this just some game to her??? Our love is so beautiful and she is just throwing it away!! I need to make her see that we belong together!!!  I need her to understand that we were right in thinking that we were perfect together!!! Why can’t she just SEE?????????????
*saved*  8:09pm
Friday, March 3, 2017                     9:59pm
Dear Journal,
*saved*  10:16pm
Friday, March 3, 2017                     11:46pm
Dear Journal,
I just heard her get home.  I need to go talk to her.  There has to be a way to work this out.  Maybe she just needed to let off some steam with the girls…  That better be the reason…  I’ll tell you how our conversation goes in tomorrow’s session.  Sorry I have to cut this short but I really need to just talk to her……….
*saved*  12:01am
*sent* 12:02am
NEW YORK TIMES                                                                            Saturday, March 4, 2017
In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 4, 2017, Jessica Morris was found murdered in her fourth-floor apartment after a psychologist alerted police about an e-mail “diary” he had received from a patient.  The man, Joe Smith, had worked in the same building as Ms. Morris as an IT specialist.  After reading the e-mail sent from Mr. Smith, Dr. James Monroe called authorities immediately believing that Ms. Morris’ life may be in danger.  Sadly, he was too late.  Mr. Smith had a long history of mental illness and it was discovered that he had formed an irrational and unfounded relationship with Ms. Morris.  Authorities believe that she had no idea she was being stalked.  A BOLO has been issued for Joe Smith and any persons who have any information regarding his whereabouts are urged to contact the authorities at the number listed below.