Tamara Jorell

Writing life and the neighborhood

Writing life and the neighborhood

 

52 weeks, 52 sentences

“What are you writing for the blog this week?” Mom asked me as she washed the last of the dishes at her kitchen sink.

After our three-hundred-and-thirty mile trip to her place on the farm in northern Minnesota, we were snug. I had initially hoped for some snowshoeing time over a few days, but the minus twenty-seven degrees outside—and now Mom’s nudge—warmed me to the idea of staying inside and writing.

“I’ll come up with something,” I said. “Any thoughts?”

“How about pulling together a story using one sentence from each of your blog entries this year?”

“I like it.”

***

Here’s the incoherent outcome (and if any sentence piques your interest, visit the blog for the full—and hopefully clearer—story):

I had first encountered the three little ones years earlier when their dad dropped them off in our yard—along with their dog Daisy—for an unexpected visit, then disappeared. This wasn’t the first time my teen and the first-grader had sparred. I took my struggle to the mat and sat in the presence of the One who owned it all. Maybe blessings would come in the form of no more home break-ins or packages stolen from our front steps.

While I was trying to imagine the reason for a woman jumping, nude, from an upstairs window in The Barn by John Wilde, voices interrupted the gallery’s silence.

“From back there, you looked much younger.”

“Hm,” I furrowed my brow. I flopped an arm over the end of his kayak and gagged all the way to the riverbank.

Then he did a double-take. “Twenty-seven years,” said the man, motioning for the dog to sit.

At 11:30 that night, Husband and I heard voices outside on the street.

“Get out of your vehicle and put your hands over your head,” he said, his amplified voice resonating throughout the alley. He bends down to pluck a long stick from my yard, and I hold my breath. So much for sleeping late.

If only I had known then what was to come. Usually I look out on a brownish lawn, seeing cars flash by as people begin their way to work.

“A guy just stole a t-shirt.” They covered it with blankets and tarps and ran three straps lengthwise and two from top to bottom, securing it for the trip.

“Okay, you’re off the hook,” I announced.

After a busy weekend of running loads over to the new place, Dallas phoned me on Monday morning.

I sigh now because of The Incident in that ancient garden. “Time to go, honey.”

On this side of eternity, though, I don’t see anything new. Advanced cases of head lice, trips to Urgent Care for fungus or urinary tract infections, burs stuck in Afros, cussing two-year-olds.

“Let’s run to Blockbuster,” Husband said when I returned to the chalet. We’ve all done it.

“ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH THIS MOVIE?” she said.

Are you looking for a volunteer activity for a group? And that’s where everything started to go wrong. I peeled off the bandana blindfold.

“Here you go,” Husband said, handing the kid a hotdog. And I’m glad I’ve never made rules around it that could’ve quashed the fun.

I think of a little girl who once stayed with us. She hauls a cardboard box across the alley to my house and unloads its contents onto my dining room table.

“Okay, go,” I finally say, and she lopes toward my new white couch.

Hardship probably creates the best memories. And stuff is only stuff, so use it. Then it came to me.

“Here, catch,” I’d say, tossing marshmallows to my little passengers in the back seat.

“Wow,” Husband said.

Two months after the break-in, a salesman came to our door peddling security systems. Why me? I thought of how little I cared about my toenails. Sometimes the silent messages are the loudest.

“It itches,” I howled to a nurse.

There’s definitely a scar there.

“My heart is beating, and I’m breathing.”

But life wasn’t always so good between Mr. Neighbor and us. After all his trouble, I wouldn’t be courteous if I didn’t order a half pint. And for a week, I forgot all about David Joy, my up-until-then favorite doll. But rest assured, the new object of her affection will lend a hand and save her from herself.

And that’s the end of this thing.

***

Happy 2018, readers! May the New Year be one of clarity, humor, and good ideas.

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*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.

© 2014 Tamara Jorell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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