Just My Luck

Tap,tap…tap tap tap. Tap, tap…tap tap tap.

Leah Donovan awoke to the rhythmic sound of rain drops hitting her bedroom window. She really didn’t want to get up. The bed felt so good, but she had to get ready for work.

When she turned on the water in the shower, it was cold and remained that way. She quickly jumped in, washed, then jumped out. After she got dressed, she went to put on her shoes, but one of the heels had begun to separate. She went to grab a quick breakfast of toast and juice, but the bread was molded and there was no juice.

avaxnewsLeah felt like she just wasn’t having any luck. She grabbed her wallet, keys, and cell phone. Once outside, she was bombarded with raindrops. She doubled back for her red umbrella.

As Leah walked the three blocks to the bus stop, the rain stopped. Rays of sun tried their best to break through the clouds before them. She closed the red umbrella hoping it would not be needed anytime soon.

Leah stood at the bus stop with the others she saw most mornings. No one seemed to speak – just nod a greeting and proceed with whatever they were doing. Her cell phone buzzed.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:17am>: Not feeling well. Won’t be in. Can you make the presentation at 8:30am?

Leah’s eyes grew large. She never liked standing in front of groups, especially when she had not prepared for whatever she was supposed to speak about. She started typing an excuse for why she couldn’t do it, then erased it.

<Leah, Tuesday, 7:19am>: Sorry you’re not feeling well. Sure I can do it.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:20am>: Thank you. I’ll email you the presentation.

Leah felt ill in a way, nervous really. She checked her email. Jim’s presentation was there. She clicked on the file. Scrolling through the slides there was much that she was not familiar with. A second email came in. It was notes. Thank God!

Leah got on the bus and swiped her pass while fully immersed in the content of her unexpected task. She sat on one of the side benches, laying down her umbrella and wallet as her eyes stayed glued to her cell phone.   When her stop came up, she rose from her seat still studying the presentation while managing to grab her wallet without looking. She descended the bus stairs and off to work.

Once there, Leah had to hustle to make sure everything for the presentation was set up and ready. She mimicked a dry run as she sat in her cube and then reviewed Jim’s notes again. Even after all of that, she still felt ill-prepared. Her hands were sweaty and her stomach felt on the verge of lurching. She hated being put on the spot, but this was for Jim. He’d mentored her since she joined the company over two years ago. And he had been there when her sister passed away.

Then it dawned on her. Leah looked at her desk and didn’t see the umbrella. She started to panic. Where is it? She scrounged around the drawers in her cube then tried retracing her steps. It hit her. She left it on the bus. She started to cry. It was all she had left of her. Leah tried to collect herself. The presentation was in five minutes, and in this moment, it didn’t matter compared to what she had lost – again.

She frantically looked up the name of the bus company and called. They didn’t offer much help, just a “check back tomorrow to see if it turns up in our lost and found”.

Leah felt like she couldn’t function. Her mind was stuck on the red umbrella and her sister. Her co-worker broke her glazed stare by reminding her about the presentation.

Leah completed the presentation successfully and had received a few pats on the back from her peers. The distraction of the umbrella had obviously cured her stage fright. But now she was on a mission. She devoted her lunch break to finding the symbolic link to her deceased sister.

*****

Two stops down from where Leah got off the bus earlier, a casually-dressed man climbed aboard and took a seat. When he noticed the red umbrella setting alone on one of the side benches, he asked if anyone had lost it. No one claimed it, so he took it. After all, rain was in the forecast for the afternoon.

The man exited the bus, then walked a couple of blocks to a café to meet a friend for coffee. When he sat down at the table, he placed the umbrella in the chair next to him. The friend arrived and the two shared conversation over hot drinks and pastries. Afterwards, the man paid the check and left. The waitress did not notice the umbrella until after the man and his friend had left and she was clearing the table. She placed it in the lost and found in case he came back.

That afternoon, it started to rain again. The waitress had no covering so she took the umbrella from the lost and found. By the time she got to the bus stop, the rain had subsided. She wrapped the umbrella up in itself and set it next to her. She spent the ride looking at the people and buildings that she passed by. The waitress thought she saw her boyfriend in an embrace with another woman. She got off at the next stop, hurrying past the boarding passengers to get to the place where the infidelity was taking place. The red umbrella was once again left behind.

Nathan sat down, looking back at the chaos that was developing between the former passenger and the couple on the street. He shook his head in disbelief as the two women began fighting while the man walked away.   Women! 

yesterlandHe turned back around to nonchalantly view the road ahead. Then he took notice of the other passengers. His eyes happened to catch something red in the corner of the back seat. He went back to investigate. It was a red umbrella. Nathan gasped. Some of the passengers turned to look at him.   He nodded his head signaling that everything was ok, but internally he knew that something supernatural was happening.  He picked it up, staring at it, wondering what significance it held.

Nathan got off at the next stop. He found a woman sitting alone on a bench, crying. Remembering what the angel had mentioned, he knew that this was the person he was to help. He placed a hand on her shoulder, “Are you ok?”

The woman looked up at him. Then she saw the umbrella. Her sorrow turned to joy. “My umbrella!”

“Excuse me?”

“I think that’s my umbrella. Can I see the handle?”

“Well, um, here you go.” Nathan handed Leah the umbrella. Sure enough ‘MAROO’, her sister’s nickname, was scratched into the handle.

“I left it on the bus this morning. I thought it was gone forever.” Leah uttered with excitement and relief.

Nathan was puzzled because he thought the deed he was to do would be greater.  “I’m glad you were able to get it back. Hope you have a nice day.” He turned to walk away.

“Hey, wait a minute. Can I buy you lunch or something? After all, you did just save my day.” Leah smiled.

“Uh, sure. Why not?”

Nathan and Leah walked a couple of blocks to one of her favorite spots. Over sandwiches and iced tea, Leah hesitantly began her story, detailing the significance of the umbrella. “My sister Maroo…um, Marie, died a couple of years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nathan’s eyes yielded genuine sympathy.

Leah continued feeling somewhat comfortable with the man across from her, “It was during one of the bad snow storms. Marie’d left for work, but never arrived. It was unlike her to miss work. She loved her job.”

Nathan leaned forward, attentively listening.

“Three days later, they found her car over a hidden embankment. Snow had covered it, but this red umbrella was sticking out of one of the windows. That’s how the rescue team found her.” Leah tried to choke back tears, but some fell.

Nathan placed his hand on hers offering a proverbial shoulder of comfort.

“So I kept this umbrella as a reminder of my sister and her last act alive.”

“Wow! Had no idea when I picked it up. Glad I did.”

“Me too.” Leah collected herself then smiled. Nathan smiled back. There was a brief pause before they averted each other’s eyes.

Leah changed the subject. As they continued to talk, they found more topics to talk about – some being utterly hilarious. Like the Google commercial about Hall and Oates. She was enjoying Nathan’s company, and he seemed to feel the same. Before they knew it they had been at the restaurant close to two hours. The new-found-friends exchanged numbers and hugged as they were about to part ways. Leah ensured that she still had the umbrella in her possession.

This would be her lucky day after all – and for Nathan too.

Photos: Avax News, Yesterland

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Thread through History

aliexpress2Edith went to the trunk posted at the foot of her bed. She pulled out a piece of fabric that was actually a drab gray plaid blanket that she took from the ship. She laid it out on the bed, smoothing out the wrinkles. She was 23 years old back then. Now she was 40 dealing with a similar issue in a different time and place. She wanted to make better use of the blanket so she made a dress.

Edith turned the lackluster fabric into a masterpiece almost like Cinderella going to the ball. She cut and sewed each piece by hand using no pattern, only a memory of the types of dresses she made at the factory. The top of the dress was fitted with long-sleeves, a column of buttons down the front, and a flared skirt with pleats at the bottom. She used an old pillowcase to make the white Peter Pan collar and matching cuffs . She had sewn hundreds of these dresses, but this one was different. It would be special, for a special purpose.

The day arrived for Edith to wear her dress. She was proud and determined to accomplish the task at hand – to march with the others for civil rights. It was a shame that in 1963 people had to fight for their humanity, but she knew what this was like. She’d seen it before.  Her eyes filled with tears thinking about how some could be so cruel based on the color of one’s skin. Weren’t we all God’s children?

SeattlePIAt the march, the group of protesters gathered at the church to pray and give ground rules on how to proceed. It was to be peaceful. Marchers were to ignore insults, lashing out via spit, or some other defamatory tactic. And in the event of being physically assaulted or police brutality, marchers were encouraged not to fight back. Edith understood the rules.

The group began to move down the street from the church towards the center of town. Edith felt eyes watching her – not just the lines of men and women yelling racial epitaphs, but also some of the marchers. A little black girl in the line looked at Edith’s arm. When Edith noticed, she pulled down her sleeve.

“Why do you have numbers on your arm?”

“Long time ago, a man put this on me to identify me.”

“Identify you for what? Because you’re white?”

Edith wasn’t sure how to answer. The little black girl’s mother grabbed her arm and scolded her for asking questions.

“It’s alright. She’s just curious,” Edith said trying to ease the situation.

The mother hesitantly looked at her while still holding her daughter’s hand. The little black girl looked from her mother to Edith to figure out why her mother was looking that way and why no one would answer her questions. Edith slowed her steps so that she would fall towards the back of the line. She didn’t want to make the mother anymore uncomfortable than she probably was. Besides her purpose there was to take a stand.

As the marchers got closer to town, locals were becoming bolder. Some walked along side the group cursing and displaying their distaste for the demonstration. Then suddenly someone in the group was hit by a local welding a baseball bat. There were screams when it landed on its target. Edith craned her neck to see. It was the mother.

Edith pushed through the crowd to try to help them. It was difficult because chaos had ensued. Some of the marchers were fighting back, others were being assaulted, and yet there were those trying to stick to the rules and continue to march.

There was blood everywhere. The little black girl was crying.  Edith grabbed her and shielded her from the bricks and blows that were coming from every angle. But what she didn’t expect was to see a man in her face with a rifle. Edith was stunned, but not afraid. She stood up with the little black girl behind her. She looked the man in the eyes with fierceness and determination. She realized that he wasn’t a man after all,  just an adolescent boy. She yanked the gun from his hand. He punched her. She fell. He took the gun and tried to fire it. The little black girl screamed. The gun had jammed.

A marcher pulled Edith and the little black girl to safety. The little black girl held on to Edith like she was her new mama. Edith couldn’t let her go – especially since she didn’t know the outcome of her real mother. Hours later, she’d learn that the woman had died. The little black girl was in the care of relatives. Her name was Marilee.

*****

Edith passed away in 1995 at the age of 72 – her daughter and grandson by her side. Before her last breath it was as if she had so much to say but she struggled for air and time to get the words out. Edith hadn’t talked in detail about her life. Her family knew she was a Holocaust survivor and that she had marched alongside African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. Edith made no fanfare about these things. What was the point?

To her family, Edith was mama and grandma – the strong matriarch of the family who went about life without complaint or drawing attention. She helped others when she was able. So it was not a surprise that many of her belongings went to the local thrift shop whose mission was to help the community.

theartofsimpleOne day, a woman went to the thrift shop looking for clothing from the ’60s. Her daughter was participating in a play celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday. The woman scrimmaged through the racks and boxes of clothing and items. She jumped back in shock when she saw the gray plaid dress with the white Peter Pan collar and cuffs.

“It couldn’t be.”

The woman looked at the bottom left hem to see if it was still there. It was, but faded. It was a stain of her mother’s blood. Marilee held the dress close to herself. She couldn’t believe it. Tears flowed from her eyes. Her thoughts retraced history, remembering the baseball bat cracking her mother’s skull, and the woman with the numbers on her arm who kept her from further harm.

Marilee asked the thrift shop clerk if he knew where the dress came from. Like most donations, he either had no direct record of who gave it or could not share the information. Marilee purchased the dress anyway. It was an heirloom weaving her history into the woman with the numbers tattoo. And just like most precious heirlooms, she had it encased. She made sure to document the events of the day in 1963 and to share the story with her daughter so that it could be passed down throughout the generations. She also included the history of the Holocaust so that the maker of the dress could be remembered.

Amazing how one dress created a thread through history.

 

Photo: Aliexpress, Seattle PI, theartofsimple

Comfortable in My Own Skin

pixabayI was born on a Tuesday…no, wait….a Thursday.  Well I guess at my age now, it really doesn’t matter.  Hi, my name is Anne, and I’m 74 years young.  I used to not say things like that because my mind wasn’t right.  Well, not in a mentally disordered sense, but just my way of thinking.  My only regret, is that I didn’t learn about thinking better, sooner.  Would have made a lot of different decisions if I had.  I know you didn’t come here to hear about my problems.  But I’ll share a piece of my life with you.  Maybe it’ll help some youngins get it together before their bones turn brittle.

When I was a little girl, we lived in a small clapboard house.  Nothing special.  Two bedrooms, a tiny bathroom, and an even tinier kitchen.  I know this was the best Mama and Daddy could do, but I used to be ashamed.  You see, the kids I went to school with lived in pretty brick homes near town.  They never made fun of me or nothing, but I just didn’t feel like we were the same.  There were many other things we didn’t have in common like clothes, race, or things that happened inside the home.  So I withdrew.  Well, not totally.  Had one friend in grade school, but her family moved away by the time we were in high school.
Continue reading “Comfortable in My Own Skin”

Land of I Can’t

cant

You’ve probably heard of the land of I Can’t.  It’s  near IwishIhadadone and on the other side of Wouldacouldashoulda.  The citizens of I Can’t are known to be frowned up, looking down on the inhabitants of the City of Dreams.  They often tell them what they can and can not do, should or should not accomplish.  There’s a lot of opinion in I Can’t – and most of it is on the negative side. Continue reading “Land of I Can’t”