Second place winner! this essay will be in the December 2022 issue of the National Federation of the Blind’s Writer’s Division Literary magazine, Slate and Style.
One Dog’s Life
Verona and my daughter play in the lake for an hour. the funniest thing is the way Verona blows water from her mouth after dropping the stick. It makes a loud, spitting sound that can be heard from the patio.
When the assorted waterfowl horde realizes she is visiting, it waddles in masse from grass to the lake weeds beside the dock. Labrador nose dilates, a front paw lifts, instincts override even an offer of a cookie. for just a little while she is the retriever, the soft-mouthed hunting companion, not a guide dog.
Each and every year we have together is a blessing, a time for me to feel unfettered. I try to think back on the way life was before training with Verona but my mind veers from those dark moments and I let them go. We are here, being warmed by the late afternoon sun. We are dog and woman, partners for however long time and fate permit.
Four humans and two dogs fill the little red sedan. I sit in front, along with Mom, who is driving. In the back seat, Music’s furry butt crushes my sister, who, until now has suffered in silence.
“Thank God it’s a short ride,” I hear her mumble from somewhere behind us.
We reach our destination, extract ourselves from the little red sedan. Verona’s excitement is palpable. Once inside the gate, loose dogs run up to us, but I make her ignore them and sit until I’m ready. With a word she’s off. We claim a bench in the warm California sun. moments later Verona lopes by us, a pack of dogs giving chase. I listen for the pack to turn back and run past us again, Verona in the lead.
Pebbles and shells litter the meandering path to the beach. The air resonates with surf and sea birds. I release Verona and she lopes off, nose to the ground
Music, my sister’s Golden Retriever, chases Verona into the water. As she turns to give chase, a huge wave crashes down and for a moment she is engulfed, Sucked away by green sea and foam. my heart skips a beat in arrested panic; The wave spits her out onto the beach and she runs to me, weaves in-between my legs and soaks my pants. I look like incontinence has gotten the best of me. Thereafter, Verona avoids the waves and prefers a safer splash in the wet sand and tidal pools instead.
It’s important that Verona has the opportunity to be a dog; so much responsibility is put upon her when waring the harness, it seems that this is the best way to let her know. As she digs a hole in the sand and flops down to dry off, my heart is content because she is doing just what she’s supposed to be doing, living a dog’s life.
Flash Fiction under 200 words
A fortuneteller, skin cream, and a song stuck in someone’s head
The song’s percussion joined with the eerie chanting. The crescendo found her own pain and she wailed with the vocals, higher and higher until her voice broke.
“Baby, are you okay?”
Lorna sat up, another wail stuck in her throat.
“Easy there, Babe,, I think you had a nightmare,”
She tried to calm her racing heart, taking deep breaths.
“No more psychic fortuneteller shows for you before bed,” Jackie said.
Lorna couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious.
Jackie slid over a hand in a reassuring gesture. It was then Lorna noticed the fabric glove on her own hand.
A typically-Jackie style smirk broke across her face.
“You must have been exhausted. I helped you on with the gloves after you put on your skin cream and you fell asleep before your head hit the pillow,”
Lorna looked into her partner’s steady gaze and felt the rush of color on her own cheeks.
Jackie drew her closer, kissing Lorna’s forehead.
“let’s go back to sleep,” she soothed, settling them both back under the covers.
Annie Shares News Volume 2 Issue 9 September 2022
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Wonderful Things Afoot
The creative life is often compared to an ebb and flow, like tidal or moon phases. The last two months were a prime example. I barely wrote anything more than email correspondence due to being removed from our home of thirty years no thanks to asbestos contamination in our old floors. During a vacation in temporary housing via an Airbnb to await the asbestos abatement and installation of new floors, no thanks to hurricane Ida, I managed only one poem. I disconnected and it was probably for the best. I read, I soaked in the blessed silence, basked in the sun, brushed Bailey until my arm was tired, took in the evocative smells of country living and scratched my bug bites with complete complacency.
The day prior to our return the stress flared and another two weeks of creative cut-off overtook me, but this time it wasn’t attributed to adjusting to the ambiance of country living and black bears eating the tasty apples from the tree in the yard next to us. It was frustration and disappointment that shut me down. Our home was in chaos. Boxes from floor to ceiling, many of them unmarked. It was beyond dirty, our appliances were unplugged and left to leak all over the kitchen floor. The list goes on but it is behind us now. It was a helpless feeling, for sure.
The lifeline appeared when I attended a few writing-related zoom meetings. The first was the regular Friday afternoon Writing Works Wonders Community Call podcast streamed by the ACB Media Network. It helped me reconnect with my creativity by providing a writing prompt and it resulted in a poem which will be in a sweet little online literary pub called the Plum Tree Tavern. Then, the following week, the WWW hosts Kathy and Cheryl provided a second prompt that resulted in yet another poem, posted below, which was well received by other writers and is looking for a publication home.
Thanks to a fellow author and editor, Robert Kingett, I signed up for an open mic call and I read five of my more recent poems and was thrilled to receive high praise from the listeners. The facilitator followed up with me resulting in an opportunity to record one of my guide dog poems. It will be added to a poetry project for the Chicago Public Library.
While writing is solitary, the sharing of it is not; the sharing is what pushes me to write, to create and keep a productive mindset. Being good at something like writing and hearing others say my writing is good gives me a feeling of belonging and purpose. I’d lost those two aspects of self when I became blind and reclaiming them over the years felt like gluing the jagged pieces of my soul back together.
Opportunities abound, from online writing prompts given by Writing Works Wonders to focused feedback and email lists to connect like in the writer’s group, Behind Our Eyes. One never knows where the opportunities and connections will appear but one thing is sure, striving to produce good writing and sharing it with readers is the goal.
I value you all, it is you, the reader, the listener, the literary compatriots, for whom I write. I will keep writing as long as you keep reading and listening.
By Ann Chiappetta ©
A perpetual ending
Of wilting haiku blossoms
Of Heat and drought and rain on wind chimes
Of crisp leaflets capturing autumn’s promise and
open fields of earth’s parchment
awaiting to harvest and scribe
richness into Nature’s book with stories of Winter white.
Dreya sends her fanciful smile your way, what’s better than a book dragon asking her friends to read more books?