Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pandora's Jar

I am so very pleased to be able to participate in this week’s landmark 100th wordzzle challenge.
It was the clever and inspired word play and camaraderie at Raven’s Nest that helped me to overcome my inhibitions and begin blogging. The first piece I ever published was here.
A family medical emergency has made it difficult to come up with an offering utilizing this week’s words. I had written a story that didn’t get posted last week. Raven has been gracious enough to invite me to share it past its due date.
Congratulations to Raven, and to all the wordzzlers whose imaginations traverse the daunting gaggle of words each week. Condolences to family, friends and the online writing community for the passing of Dr. John.

10-word challenge: thermometer, Pandora, vivid, langourous, Saturday, pancreas, apple dumplings, watch tower, lichen, sparrow

mini: rigid, spiritual, ribbon, web cam, vitamins

To all my children,
Everything is contained in this jar.
It is all here for you, for the dreaming.

infinite love and blessings,

The jar had inhabited the shelf. No one knew how long. It remained largely unnoticed. Fiesta plates—tangerine, peacock, cobalt-- dazzled breezy weekenders. Matte green vases were snapped up by rigid traditionalists praying for Rockwood.

On a slow Thursday afternoon, a woman with soft Italian gloves coaxed the jar forward. Her fingers absently pried the cap while her eyes scoured the shop for hidden treasures. The jar made up its own mind, remaining crusty and inscrutable. The following Saturday, a bookish couple crept about the periphery, sniffing at the cluttered isles. The woman, wan and hollow, lifted the jar from its perch and peered into it, as if demanding irrefutable proof for the Goldman conjecture. Brackish water sloshing against thick optical walls was all the reward she received for her efforts.

With the economic thermometer plummeting, a once steady stream of tourists had thinned to a narrow ribbon. But the Watch Tower Mercantile and Ephemera was still standing. It had survived the vagaries of fortune for the past 150 years.

There was nothing for Therese to do but get into her Honda coupe and drive. She took the coastal route, the fog curling damply around her.

She had searched in vain for some explanation, and wound up blaming herself for early frost. After all, it had happened the day she returned from visiting with family; her brother had surprised her with a webcam to document the blessed event. Why oh why had she taken that plane trip? It was reckless! She was certain it had been the low air pressure in the cabin…there were those studies with flight attendants. Or maybe it was the mail order vitamins, that vigorous swim, the emotions stirred up by the Sidney Lumet film. There was no solace, spiritual or human to be found in these days. She continued to withdraw, until she found herself on the other side of emptiness.

Therese had been alone with her thoughts for nearly two hours. Weary of driving, she signaled her intent to exit. The highway spilled onto a tidy downtown district. She parked at 2nd and Main and wrapped her sweater snuggly around her. Things felt slightly unreal, as if she were watching another girl wandering the quiet streets. She drifted past Flora’ Buttercup Café, Tally’s Corner Diner Bar and Grill, Mad Hatter Books and Tipple’s Inn.

Something about the windows reflecting on the weathered sign motioned her closer. The implausible toss of words shivered the air. How we plant our hearts and souls into the starched mercantile durability of it all, and then watch as our bodies evaporate into trails of smoke.

The door swung open easily. Things seemed to be resting. A sudden cold blast dislodged the Calico. The clear sweet tone of the door harp ushered her into the idle warmth.

Therese decided to stay. She felt comfortable in this colloidal world where cherished belongings awaited new life. A late ray of afternoon sun softened the features of the cavernous room, caressing the naked grain of a massive sideboard, glinting off of a solitary metal rim.

As Therese approached the jar, she felt something loosen inside. She swallowed and a storm gathered in her eyes. Her fingers sorted through her emotions. She brushed the surface layer of dust off the jar. It sparkled with a light of its own. The tears came freely.

The proprietor gazed across the counter in a curiously familiar way.” “I’d forgotten this was still here.” she mused. “There was no price.” Therese stumbled. “It’s just an old jar,” the woman countered. “Maybe you can find a sunny window. If you wouldn’t mind waiting, I’ll check to see if there is any record.” She swiveled on her chair and tipped towards a bulky drawer. Blunted fingers worried through a thick file, producing an unmarked faded envelope.

Outside, it was beginning to rain. Therese opted for the inland route.

She loved the jar for its age and its heft. Upon awakening, she would gently open it and wait.

Today it was the steam rising from a stack of apple dumplings, transporting her vividly back to those languorous summer mornings on Nana’s porch. Apple dumplings, piping hot, drenched in cinnamon syrup, enough to tax the most durable pancreas. She inhaled the sticky perfume, took her first luscious bite, reveling in the sappy trickle navigating the slope of her chin. The morning was thick with sparrows which she chased narrowly out of trees till the sky was filled with them. The fluorescent green lichens spreading like a luxurious carpet over the ancient oak.

Each day was a delicately wrapped gift. Candied orange peel, Oaxacan chocolate. Astor Piazolla, crepiscule. New songs starting to form .


Raven said...

What a wonderful story to head for bed and dream on! I want one of those jars! Maybe I'll make myself one. Thanks so much both for writing this and for sharing it. You have such a wonderful gift not only for writing, but for writing love and beauty.

Much Love,

the walking man said...

I found the story stunning, not only for the eloquent way you presented Therese and her recent past. Her questioning the why was so smoothly done without being overly wrought. But the way you left it to the jar to reveal her o herself.

Very very nice piece of writing Anna.

Christopher said...

I completely agree with the Walking Man's comments. This is a superb piece of writing - kudos to you!!!!

Connie T. said...

This is a nice story. You describe things so well. Nice wordzzle.

Argent said...

This was such a well crafted story. I really enjoyed the lyrical tone and the sedate, steady pace of it. You paint very well and I could see, hear and smell everything! I'm really pleased Raven pointed your post out to me.

MommyW said...

What a beautiful portrait you paint! Isn't it fun to incorporate words someone else has chosen?

Hope to see more of you at RSWC!


TomCat said...

Hi Gabrielle

I'm rushing through to let you know that I've moved Politics Plus to

You're in the new blogroll there. Would you please update me in yours?

奇奇怪怪 said...
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