A Thousand Words: Hope

Image by Olivia Tejeda. Some rights reserved.

I know youth does not spring eternal, but with the right moisturizer and good lighting, hope does. This photo is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme this week is “Hope.”

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted on Sundays.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Maybe it will make you think about Botox again. Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

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Flash Fiction: Christmas Past

© Olivia Tejeda

“My great-nephew over in Prescott invited me.”
“Say again?”
“MY GREAT-NEPHEW!”
“Criminy! Irene, what are ya hollerin’ at?”
“Turn up your hearing aid.”
“They’re up, they’re up …  Are you going?”
“Where?”
“To your damn nephew’s house.”
“Land sakes, Bea, your language!  Yes, I’m going.”
“Is he the one with the kids?”
“The screaming kids, the fat wife, and the drunk mother-in-law.”
“You gotta drive all that way for that kind of nonsense?”
“What else am I gonna do?”
“Stay home!”
“By myself?  No how, Mister!  Not on Christmas!”
“My sister-in-law is flying in from Utah.  We’ll have dinner.”
“Oh good, so you’re covered.”
“I’d rather be alone.”
“Oh heavens, Bea! It’s Christmas.  Why would you want to be alone?
“You never met my sister-in-law.”
“But being alone … on Christmas … what could be worse?”
“My sister-in-law.”

Writing this story, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs, Hello in There, performed here by Bette Midler.

Thank you for reading.  To read more flash fiction from a great group of writers, search #fridayflash on Twitter or visit Mad Utopia.


For Yeats: When You are Old and Gray …

A few weeks ago, I posted “Distractions, failures? Yeats had them, too,” about my visit to the National Library of Ireland, and what I learned about William Butler Yeats while I was there.

Today is Yeats’ birthday, so to honor him and spread the joy I’ve had in reading his poetry, I’m sharing one of his poems.  This is one of my favorites, both for its theme and for its slow, ethereal beauty.

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

Reprinted courtesy of poetry-archive.com.

At times, when I’m having difficulty getting the words right or my writing isn’t flowing, poetry helps me break through.  It gives me the in.  I don’t know if it’s the beauty of the words or the lyrical flow, but it opens up that part of my brain that’s not so uptight and rigid, and it allows me to write.

Do you use poetry this way? Do you have any favorite poems that stir your creativity?  Please share them here.

To learn more about William Butler Yeats or read more of his poetry, please visit the Yeats Society.

Flash Fiction: The Letter

Here is my flash fiction for this week. Please share any constructive criticism you can offer. To read more flash fiction from a great group of writers, search #fridayflash on Twitter or visit Mad Utopia. Thanks for reading.

The Letter
By Olivia Tejeda

Jolene squatted down, working Kate’s spindly arm through the sleeve of a her brown cardigan, as Nancy click-clacked into the room on too high heels.

“Hey, Jolene,” she chirped, looking down at the nurse’s aide. “Is Kate writing again today?” She laughed as she dropped an envelope onto Kate’s dresser and walked back out, click-clacking her way down the rest of the hallway.

Jolene shook her head and looked at Kate. “Something’s gonna fall off that girl, she keeps shaking it like that.” She laughed at her own joke, but Kate didn’t respond. She sat silently staring out at nothing as Jolene’s stubby fingers fumbled with the small buttons on the front of her sweater.

When she finally finished dressing Kate, Jolene grabbed the sides of the chair and hoisted herself up, breathing hard from the effort. “There now, Mrs. Kate, don’t you look pretty.”

She carefully rested Kate’s arms on top of the wheelchair tray and rolled the chair out of the way. Working quickly, Jolene scooped up the pajamas and towels she left on the floor while she was dressing Kate and dumped them into the wall hamper with a big sigh. Thank goodness she was off for the next couple days. The nursing home was short staffed for more than two weeks now and there was just too much to do. Already this morning, she was behind schedule and she still had five more residents to wash and dress.

“Breakfast is coming, so I’m gonna take you to the Sun Room,” Jolene said, swiping her hair up off her forehead. She  gave the room a quick once over, flipped off the light, and wheeled Kate down the hall to leave her with the others.

After her weekend off, Jolene came back to find three more residents assigned to her morning rounds. She wouldn’t fight it this time, though; she learned there was no sense to that. The work had to be done and the residents had to be taken care of, but maybe it was time to look for another job.

Half way through her rounds, Jolene came to Kate’s room and expected to find her doing the writing thing she did. Instead, she found her trying to get out of her wheelchair.

“Whoa, hold on, Kate,” she said running to her side, hoping to reach the old woman before she fell. Jolene never knew what she’d find her Alzheimer’s patients doing, but Kate was never a problem. She spent her days silent and still. Only her hands were in near constant motion, writing something that wasn’t there. An imaginary pen moving line by line across an invisible page kept Kate busy and quiet, even as residents around her screamed or threw things.

Jolene tried to settle Kate back into her chair, but Kate fought her, pushing her away and trying with all her might to break free of her hold. Jolene was surprised, but she held on. “It’s okay, honey. It’s okay,” she repeated over and over until Kate quieted down.

She stepped back to catch her breath and saw Kate trying to get up again, but this time she noticed Kate was reaching toward the letter Nancy dropped on her dresser days ago.

“You want your letter,” Jolene said, finally realizing the problem. She picked up the letter and gave it to Kate, who immediately relaxed and sat back down.

“Oh, Kate,” Jolene said with a big sigh. “I can’t believe this entire weekend and nobody read you your letter.”

In that moment, Kate’s vacant stare was gone. Her eyes were clear and pleading as she looked directly at Jolene. For the first time, Jolene felt Kate’s presence, and she got a glimpse of Kate, the real Kate, the one held hostage behind the foggy curtain that kept her shut in.

Jolene bent down to eye level. “You want me to read your letter?” she asked quietly. A little smile relaxed the skin around Kate’s mouth and she handed the letter to Jolene.

There was a long list of duties that needed Jolene’s attention, and she figured she’d be written up for taking the time to do this, but she put all that aside and instead pulled up a chair and read Kate her letter.

When she finished and folded the letter back into the envelope, Kate leaned forward, reaching out her shaking hand.

“You want the letter?” Jolene asked, handing it to her. Kate reached past the letter and touched Jolene’s hand.

“What is it, Katie? What’s wrong?” Jolene put the letter down and took Kate’s hand in hers.

“Oh, you’re welcome, honey” Jolene said, understanding now what Kate wanted. She squatted down to eye level again. “Next time a letter comes in, I’ll read it to you right away. Okay? I shoulda done it Friday, but I’m not too bright sometimes,” she said with a little laugh. Kate didn’t respond. She was lost again behind the curtain, but she kept a tight hold on Jolene’s hand.

“Wow, Katie, you’ve really got the Vulcan death grip, there.” She rubbed Kate’s hand in hers, and she looked at the little lost lady who sat silently writing every day. Kate’s grip relaxed under Jolene’s touch, but she wouldn’t let go until Jolene put the letter in her hand.

When their morning routine was finished, and the room was neatened up, Jolene saw Kate had taken the letter out of the envelope and was looking at it. She kept hold of the letter as Jolene wheeled her down the hall into the Sun Room for breakfast.

When her shift was over and she had her coat on ready to go home for the night, Jolene thought of Kate and decided to check in on her one last time. Kate sat quietly in her wheelchair under the dim reading lamp in the corner of her room. In one hand she held her letter. In the other hand she held her imaginary pen and wrote across a page that wasn’t there.[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=hand+holding+letter&iid=249795″ src=”0246/7c40b4fd-cb95-4a6c-8120-4068a9bac82b.jpg?adImageId=8025722&imageId=249795″ width=”500″ height=”338″ /]

© Olivia Tejeda and Liv Loves Lit, 2008-2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Olivia Tejeda and Liv Loves Lit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.