Archive for the ‘Love Stories’ Tag

Our Journey

 

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We were nineteen years old fifty years ago today (July 16) when we were married in Kansas City, Mo. We stood at the church altar exchanging our vows, pledging our love, and devotion to one another, feeling as if ready in some ways, yet somewhat apprehensive about what life might bring. Two weeks later, Wayne went to his appointment at his draft board to hear their decision.

It was 1966 and the draft was in effect for the Vietnam war in southeast Asia, which meant that all males, eighteen to twenty-five could be called up to serve. They all had to carry their draft cards with the status, age and identification current and listed, registered and ready. Those who refused to serve were arrested, or dodged service and ran off to Canada. Hundreds more protested in open street demonstrations and things became violent. If they were in college, or enrolled in one by the time they were drafted they were required to keep a GPA of 3.00 or better to be in an exempt status.

Our prayers, faith and an acceptance letter from the college where Wayne was enrolled that fall exempted him from serving, so it was California, “Ready or Not, Here We Come,” and we headed off to school and new jobs in Los Angeles.

Four years later in 1970 we headed back to Kansas City after our daughter’s birth and his graduation. Our second daughter was born before we moved out to Colorado, which was like coming back home for me. Though we met and married in Kansas City while living there neither of us were originally from Missouri. He was from Kentucky, and I, from Colorado.

Life during those fifty years threw us some curves; tough times that challenged our faith, and what seemed at times like ‘Mission Impossible’ assignments. But, we got through them, and grew stronger through the experience because we have a friend in Jesus, who’s always there, always forgives, and wipes away every heartache and tear. We learned to rise above difficult situations, not give up and overcome those obstacles, or mountains in our path in order to climb to this point in life, today. Whether we will make it beyond our fiftieth, God only knows, but we will be together, until death do us part, rich or poor. Our moments here on earth are temporary, fragile and unpredictable, but those with Him are eternal.

At the time of this posting Wayne and I will be in Alaska seeing some beautiful country and embarking on an Alaskan cruise enjoying this moment in our lives, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. And when I return I will have photos and stories to share of our journey.

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

“Not their last dance” (A Valentine’s Day poem/story)

Recipients, waiting for hearts

Pray faith imparts

What most they need

From one’s kind deed

~~

With hope the hearts that are reserved

For both preserved

That each receive

Will they believe

~~

Grant to them both extended life

Husband and wife

And not by chance

Be their last dance

________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Footnotes; The above poem is called a “minute poem” according to the writersdigest.com site. It is named for having a total of sixty syllables because a minute has sixty seconds, thus giving it that name. The poem contains three (verse) quatrains, each having twenty syllables, in a four line stanza with the rhyming scheme done in aabb/ccdd/eeff/ rhyme fashion. Cutting some unnecessary words, rhyming with them all in their right position, can be tricky, so I reworked this one several times. I always look forward to receiving my quarterly issue of Writer’s Digest magazine as it is packed full of great information and articles for writers, and gives me opportunities to practice new forms of poetry.   

The above illustration is mine, written in a story form of a married couple, both needing heart transplants, and both receiving their new hearts at the same time. Because of Valentine’s Day coming up on February 14th (next Sunday) I have decided to use this poetic verse rhyme to tell my little story. I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy  my little story. JEJ


Mellowed through the years like a fine, aged wine

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Mellowed through the years

like a fine, aged wine

Love is that thing

that invites itself into

your heart and seeks

to make its home.

________________

Even though it was such a long time ago I can still remember the year; 1966. We were engaged, planning our wedding and looking forward to our move to California to begin our marriage as 19 yr. old newlyweds starting college and new jobs in L.A. We were kids never having been out on our own before.

As the years rolled by I remember how busy we were, raising our girls, involved in so many things with our school and church, then as our girls grew up things slowed down a little and we could begin to relax. There were nice dinners out, roses and bouquets, those special dinners I fixed at home on holidays, and cozy nights on a cold wintry night in February, celebrating another Valentine’s Day expressing our sentiments and messages in cards like the one above my husband gave me one year.

The years were not all roses, or as sweet as aged, fine wine, but then I never really did like wine much.   🙂 But, roses I loved. They were like the kisses and fragrance of God’s sweet breath that blew softly upon our union, and when difficult times came the roses just made things all the more bright and beautiful when we learned that the best gift we could give each other was just respect. And when things seemed crazy, out of order or weird we learned how much better life could be when we learned to just laugh at our mishaps, and know that with every new day the sun did shine, even though at times it was behind a cloud. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Bridging our lives, together – Forty-seven years, today


Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson


 BRIDGING OUR LIVES, TOGETHER

Like flood waters rushing beneath a bridge,

so too have the years, behind us raced by.

We think back to a moment in time, and say,

“Do you remember that? The place?

What we did, where we were, the day?”

Our children we raised together, and prayed

through every situation, the happy, and sad.

Albums and boxes are full of those times;

the photos and mementoes of places we’ve gone,

of our children born, grown, and raised,

the vacations taken, miles traveled and logged,

family dinners, holidays, grandchildren’s births.

Even the spontaneous and randomly unplanned,

those we look back as if they happened today.

All is recorded in the margins of our lives,

filled in the pages of journals, and poems.

So, it is on this momentous day and time

We stand here blessed on that bridge of life

Thankful we can remember all gone by.

_____________

poem by: Joyce E. Johnson (July 16, 2013)

Happy wedding anniversary to my husband, Wayne

with love, on our 47 years of marriage, today (July 16, 2013)

______________________


When Dark Closes In, Chapter VIII – Fallout

English: 1965 Ford Mustang 2D Hardtop frontvie...

English: 1965 Ford Mustang 2D Hardtop

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Chapter VIII

 Fallout

     1966 – Clear Creek, WA.

    Scott boarded the southbound bus, and turned around to find her waving. He smiled, found a seat, and the bus pulled out, headed for Fort Lewis. He promised to write. She could only pray his letters would never stop, that he would return to her, and the child he knew nothing about.

    There could not be a hole anywhere on earth deeper, or greater than the one she felt in her heart as she made the lonely drive home in his 1965 Ford Mustang. Even with a window down the scent of his sweat mixed with his after shave and soap he used when he showered lingered. She caressed the black, leather upholstered bucket seats. She knew how much he loved this car, spending hours buffing and polishing it after a wash. She would call his father and have him pick it up. One day at a time: it was all she could do, and hope for the year to pass quickly.

    But, there was something she could not put off any longer, so locked it and reluctantly went inside where she knew her parents waited. They sat at the kitchen table in their usual place, reading the newspaper over their coffee. It was around the kitchen table where they had their family sessions, laughed, and talked about their day. This time an awkward silence filled the room, as if a pall of doom had followed her inside making its home there, uninvited.

   “I’m very sorry, dear. I know Scott’s leaving has been a sad and difficult thing for you, but perhaps, when you return to school things will be easier then, and you can meet up with some friends there.” Erin said.

    “I’m not returning to school in the fall.” Jennifer said, pointedly.

    Her father’s head shot up, his facial expression always an easy barometer to read. His broad, bent shoulders stiffened, as he straightened in his chair. Jennifer did not look forward to this.

    “What kind of nonsense is that? You’re going back to school. I won’t allow you to quit school, and mope around here over that boy.”

    “I’m not going back, daddy. Not now. I need to tell you both something. About why I can’t. I’m…Scott and I… I mean, I am going to have a baby. I’m pregnant.”

    Her words fell on them like the mammoth trees felled in the Olympic National forests where her father managed the logging camps. He could determine the exact angle and position as each was felled to the ground. But, he could not determine her fate. Right or wrong, alone or with their help, she would make her own way. Another long pause.

    Erin McAlister found her voice. “Have you been to a doctor? How far along are you?” she asked.

    “Yes, I saw the doctor. I’m three months.”

    “Does Scott know?” Erin asked.

    “No. I didn’t tell him. I’m not going to. Until he returns home. I don’t want anyone else to. I don’t want his family to know, because they will think it their duty to tell him. He has enough to deal with just being over there in that war.” The days of holding back tears, the stress: all of it was gone now, as she unleashed it all.

    “Mom, could you get me some water. I feel…light headed.”

    Erin got up, and brought her some water and a cold compress.

    “Thank you.”

    “Jenny. Jenny. What have you gone, and done?” Her father slowly shook his head. “Does anyone else know about this?”

    “Dana does. I told her when I found out. I just wanted to share it with someone that… would understand.”

    “How can a girl like that ‘understand?’ Someone who has no morals of her own.” Jim said, his Scotch-Irish brogue more noticeable when angry.

    “Jim. That’s enough. Maybe she wasn’t taught the things we have taught Jenny, so what else would you expect? It is rather sad they let her do all the things she was allowed to do. She lives the way she wants.”

    “Which is why our Jenny should not be hanging around with the girl.”

     “Jim! Stop that kind of talk. You don’t know…”

     “Daddy. I’m tired of you calling Scott, ‘that boy,’ and Dana, ‘that girl.’ They’re my friends. I love Scott. We plan to be married… when he comes home.” She cried into the wet compress, shoulders shaking.

    “Jenny, it will be alright. Your father is just trying to be…”

     “Sensible. Someone needs to be. I hope you have gone to confession, talked with the priest.” her father said.

    “No. I don’t need a priest. They hide behind their confessional like an imposter as if afraid, or too ashamed of you to even look at your face, and tell you what you need to hear.”

    “Jenny! That’s enough. You cannot speak that way. It’s…” Jim spat the angry words back.

    “What? Disrespectful? Are they hiding from our shame? Or theirs? Aren’t they guilty of sin, too? Isn’t it God we should confess to, and ask for help?”

    “God knows we can use his help.” Erin said, quietly.

    Jennifer walked upstairs to her room. She picked up her rosary beads sitting on the night stand. As a child she was taught to practice the good Catholic rites of faith. A confession when she did things that were wrong, regular attendance at Mass, bowing and saying her prayers before the Virgin Mary. It all seems so pointless, so empty now.

    She looked out into a clear night sky from her upstairs bedroom window. The moon was out, and the stars looked like shiny crystals scattered about. She wasn’t into astrology like some, but she found them more comforting than rosary beads.

    She fingered the tiny diamond ear studs she wore. Scot had given them to her the night they watched the sky explode in every shape and color, bursting through the dark void on July 4th, over Puget Sound.

    She went to bed, but slept little.

__________________________________

To be continued

Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

         

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN – Incoming Tide, Chapter IV

This is a chapter and scene from my novel, When Dark Closes In, about young adults in the sixties era. A bit of history  about that time: During the years between 1963 – 1975,  the military draft was implemented to increase the numbers of troops needed to fight the hated war in Southeast Asia, known as the Vietnam War. It was a historic time in the U.S. when the  ‘hippie’ generation experimented with pot, a promiscuous lifestyle, held protest demonstrations against the war and rebelled against the ‘establishment’ of rules and regulations. It is a generation that rocked and danced to the beat of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and other popular groups and singers on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. All of this story is fiction, simple as that. All characters are fictional, created only for this story, alone. Their lives and character are not based on any values or opinions of my own, but their story could be that of many out there, given the history and facts of that era and time. The history and references to the Vietnam War in places and localities are truthful and factual. You will find the prologue and first three chapters and parts of this story all posted under my ‘fiction’ category on my blog.

When Dark Closes In tells the story of Jennifer, Scott and their friends who lived, loved, fought and died during that time, succumbing to  the shadows of a dark period in history. But, from out of the darkness comes a light of hope, grace and redemption for those whose lives will be forever changed from that moment on.

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WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Chapter IV

Incoming Tide

Jennifer waited while Scott showered and dressed. She looked at framed pictures he displayed on the walls, one of them together, taken years earlier. His apartment was filled with things and touches of the man he was. A collection of miniature die-cast model cars and planes was arranged on the mantel beside the picture. On the other side rested an old baseball glove and hard ball from his days with their high school baseball team he played on when he was their star pitcher. A desk in one corner held textbooks and notebooks from his three years in college. A stereo unit with a stack of records propped up beside it took up space on the other side.

She turned on the stereo, tuning in to the local hit parade AM station, and the Beach Boys revved up and roared to life in, Little Deuce Coup.

The door to his bedroom opened. He was dressed in khaki pants, knit shirt and deck shoes. His hair with natural blond streaks, still damp, had a mussed up look adding to his rakish charm. His aqua blue eyes and captivating smile were just a couple of the things that attracted all the girls back in high school, she remembered. His recent tan was evident he’d not spent all his hours indoors at his uncle’s garage, working on cars, or in a classroom at SITE (Seattle Institute of Technology and Engineering).

Gads, he looks good.

“I left my grungy clothes in a pile on the floor for the maid to find. She’s off today.” He quipped.

“Oh. That’s too bad. I guess you will just have to wash your own clothes. Hmm…is that British Sterling I smell?”

“It is. You remember.” he replied, grinning.

Jennifer nodded. “I gave you a bottle of it the Christmas before I left for Notre Dame. It is my favorite men’s cologne.

“And now mine, too.”

“Oh, do I have that kind of effect on you?” she said, teasing again.

“Don’t you know what you do to me?” He walked over to the stereo, turned off the Beach Boys, and picked out several records, stacking them onto the cylindrical record changer. The strains to, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” began playing.

“Come here.” He said, motioning to her with his forefinger.

She went into his embrace.

“What are you thinking, with that smug grin?” she said, looking up into his eyes.

“Just how happy I am to have you all to myself tonight. We don’t have a third-party hanging around this time.”

“Who are you referring to?”

“Someone. Anyone. It seems whenever I want to be alone with you there is always someone around. But, tonight it’s just you and I, here alone in my apartment. And, since I am your ride back home tonight, you can’t get away from me.”

“I realize that. You certainly arranged this well, didn’t you? My father used to warn me, ‘Watch yourself with that guy.’ But, with my car in your uncle’s shop waiting to be serviced I could hardly refuse the ride, could I? But, Scott, don’t assume…”

“Jennifer… relax. Let’s just dance. Then we’ll go to dinner somewhere.” His arms tightened around her and he began coaxing her gently into a slow dance, their legs and hips coming together, moving together, with the music, the lyrics capitalizing on the mood, and the physical sensations she was feeling.

“Scott… I realize it’s hard for you to understand. It’s just that…well…”

“Understand what? Jennifer, I love you. I respect you for the person you are, and I’m not going to force my intentions on you. But, we’re adults, now. Let us have our time, our moments, together. Make your own decisions. Right or wrong. You’ve allowed your parents and your old-fashioned virtues to stand in the way too many times of finding some happiness for yourself.”

“It isn’t just that. It’s the consequences we live with if we make a mistake we aren’t prepared to live with, and could regret.” Her words, spoken quietly were so muffled she could barely hear them herself as she leaned into him, feeling the heat of his body, penetrating into her’s. Jennifer wanted to pull away, but couldn’t make herself do it.

The scent of his British Sterling cologne was intoxicating, his hands on her lower back, electrifying. Even as she said the words, “I think we should wait.” she knew he did not want to. She did not think she did either, anymore, as she allowed herself to be carried along, the pleasure, the blissful gratification, an ecstasy, she had never known before, and knew she could not stop. His kisses sent a wave of desire through her, gently at first like an incoming tide, then increasing with such intensity it was like the surf pounding against her groins, would not let her retreat. She succumbed to the moment, returning his kisses with the same intensity, and they forgot all else.

_______________________

On a personal note: My husband and I were just nineteen in 1966, got married and lived through that time. He was placed on exempt status from the draft so he could attend college in L.A., CA. Because, he attended four years of college, graduated, and the arrival of our first-born child in 1970, he never had to fight in that war, of which we are very thankful.

Joyce E. Johnson

THE RETURNING SAILOR

The below story poem is a narrative ballad I wrote many years ago. I posted this last June on my blog, but am re-posting it for this week’s word prompt on Geraldine’s Woven Dreams: A Creative Prompt Blog. This week’s word prompt is alive. I hope you enjoy the story and comments are always welcomed.

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THE RETURNING SAILOR

Down the coast and out to sea,

a voice, a whisper beckons me.

It is the sound of her calling my name.

Would she still love me, a man with my shame?

Will she remember the hands that caressed

her face and body, and how I confessed

of the love and tenderness for her in my heart,

wrenched and torn, when we had to part?

Now, I’m returning and will look for her,

alive with the burning desire to stir

the love we shared when I left for the sea.

I pray she’s still there, waiting for me.

There was a fight. Oh, God! What a mess.

It was late that night. I drank to excess.

I did not know, but did not care

that her husband knew of our love affair.

Coming alive with a fist to my jaw

intent on surviving once the knife I saw

I sprang with shifting feet in dread,

landing a blow with my right to his head,

then felt the piercing pain and might

of flashing silver turned crimson bright.

With his knife to my flesh, and muscle it tore.

Bleeding and enraged I came down and bore

the knife I captured, to his chest then came

in self-defense went at him the same.

His breathing stilled, and he lay dead.

Was justice served this way instead?

I went away broken, feeling despair

leaving her behind, her grief to bear.

Like an anchor weighed down

with heavy remorse

wherever I sailed, wherever my course

I could not forget how she once loved me.

Now I’m returning from a dark, cold sea.

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Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN – Bender’s Garage, Chapter III, Part 2

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN (Historical Fiction)

Chapter 3, Part 2

Bender’s Garage, Seattle, WA. 1966

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“OK, then. I’ll meet you inside, when you’re ready.” Jennifer said to Scott.

“I’ll hurry.” He said.

“I’m sure. Am I the motivation you need to work a little faster?” She smiled.

“Something like that. Do I need another reason?” He said, grinning.

It grew quieter as they talked. The banging under the noisy heap stopped when she saw the pair of legs from under it slide out revealing a face dirtier than Scott’s grinning up at her. He quickly got up from the mechanic’s creeper as if hopeful to get an introduction.

Other mechanics stood watching as she turned to walk across the work bay to the door of the customer service center. Their staring made her feel uncomfortable, but she knew they were just harmless big boys in dirty overalls.

“Hi, fellas.” She said, giving them her winning smile.

When she approached the door she noticed a wadded greasy shop towel thrown across the bay area smacking the mechanic with the dirty face. It phased him little. His eyes barely blinked, still on Jennifer as he stood like a fixture in stone, on the concrete under him.

She knew Scot could still pitch. He’d pitched all through high school, fast ball, slow curves, all while on the school softball team. He seldom ever failed to strike out players on opposing teams, anticipating their moves, judging his next pitch. But, this time he was unable to move the guy, or wipe the lascivious smile from his dirty face.

She punched in a quarter for the soda machine, and waited as a lever inside lifted and released her choice. The Coke rolled down into the slot.

Arnie Bender, Scot’s uncle came through the door and greeted her, picked up his mail from Shirley, the receptionist and entered his office.

She settled down in a chair to read the book she’d brought. But, the newspapers on a side table caught her eye. She read the titles, and subtitles of enclosed articles, “Stepping up troop movement for escalating war in Southeast Asia,” “Fighting results in increased college enrollment,” “Mothers weep at departure gates; their sons promising to write,” “Debate over U.S. involvement causes division in Congress,” “Parades and demonstrations take to the streets.” Pictures showed hippies holding signs, “Make Love, Not War!Some had those with their two middle fingers raised in a ‘peace sign.’ Others stood defiant, in their face using just their middle finger raised in a lewd gesture. The scenes and news reports were coming with more regularity for the times they lived in.

She stopped reading when she heard Scot’s name mentioned in the adjoining office. She knew it wasn’t right, but couldn’t resist listening to the conversation between Mr. Bender and the receptionist.

    “Mr. Bender, there was a call for you earlier from an Army officer by the name of…”

    “Riggs?”

    “Yes. He asked if you had filled out the necessary papers regarding your nephew, Scot’s employment here. He wanted to remind you that those papers they sent you requesting confirmation of his employment needed to be filled out and sent back ASAP to their office here in Seattle, by the deadline date.”

    “OK. Is there anything else, other calls, or messages?” he asked.

    “No sir. That’s all. The rest are on your appointment calendar, or spindle. This one I highlighted because of its importance. I thought you would want to know. He said it was vital they get those papers back by that date. He left his number for you, to call.”

    “Thank you, Shirley. That is all.”

    Shirley walked out to resume her work behind the ‘Information’ desk.

    Jennifer sat, the newspapers still in her lap, with little interest in them, or her book. She quickly tossed them back onto the table in a heap, as if she’d just been bitten or stung by an angry bee. She decided she would not tell Scott what she overheard or knew, about the ‘confirmation’ papers with his employment status requiring his uncle’s ‘immediate attention.’

    When Scott was finished, he walked inside, took his time card, clocked out, and peeked into his uncle’s office telling him, “Goodnight, uncle Arnie. See you tomorrow.”

    “Sure thing, Scott. I’ll get someone on her car first thing tomorrow.”

    “Thanks. I’ll get her home tonight and pick her up tomorrow when it’s done.”

    He turned back to Jennifer, smiling. “All ready?”

    “Yes. Thanks for the ride home, and promise of dinner.” she said.

    “My pleasure.” He said, grinning.

_________________________________

Joyce E. Johnson

        

NOW, AND FOR ALL-TIME


NOW,  AND FOR ALL-TIME

“Here we go again. Julie! Get over it. You’re overreacting.” He whispered, so the others wouldn’t hear.

Julie pulled back. “Overreacting? Is that what you call it?” She countered back, angry over his indifference.

“Yes! You keep insinuating that I have done something to encourage her. I haven’t.”

“Rob! Haven’t you noticed the way she comes around asking questions about your registration, and sessions you signed up for? When we checked in, she even came up and asked what room you’re assigned. She pretends to not even notice I’m there.”

“I don’t think she is deliberately trying to avoid you, Julie. She’s just busy seeing to details, I guess. It’s her job as the company conference coordinator. What else would you expect from someone in her position?”

“Oh, she does her job real well. Hospitality, and all. I know she’s your friend’s wife, but doesn’t her flirting around bother him? Well, maybe not. He’s not exactly lacking in social skills, either, I’ve noticed, so doesn’t seem too lonely. They don’t exactly qualify for the couple of the year award.”

“Neither do we, unfortunately.” He said. “She’s just a friend, a good listener. That’s all.”

“Yes. I bet she is”.

“Look, I know you don’t like these things, but can’t you just pretend to enjoy yourself this week? These people are my business associates. The conferences are important to my career advancement. If you have a  problem accepting that, then we have a real issue in our marriage, with little else holding us together. Expecting me to avoid all the Serenas out there isn’t going to change it.”

“Maybe not, but… never mind. I’m going for a walk, to work out my tired muscles. The trip up here took forever.”

“Don’t go far. There is a weather alert posted for tonight. A storm front is moving in. All of the Rocky Mountain region is included.”

“I’ll be fine. You go on to the fireside charades thing, or whatever they’re calling it over there. I really don’t feel like socializing right now. If they ask where I’ve gone, just tell them I had a headache, and went up to our room. I’ll see you later.”

“Julie, wait.” he pleaded. “Let’s talk.”

“Not now.” she said, waving him off, and turning away. She was unable to shake the images of Rob and Serena together.

Exiting the conference center through a side door, she headed for a trail. She paid little attention to the  signs at the trail head warning of, “Steep terrain. Watch for falling rock.” Another one, with pictures of deer, bears, and smaller game,  described the “Wildlife Presence,”  seen in the region.

She hiked a mile when a cold drizzle intensified, turning the ground messy as she navigated the narrow trail. Moisture seeped into her shoes and socks, and down the neck of her jacket, chilling her. The air turned colder. The wind grew stronger snapping limbs and pine-cones off trees.

When the moon emerged it slid behind billowing dark clouds. With no flashlight she could barely see a visible path anymore. Sleet formed ice crystals on much of the foliage where leaves and brush remained.

Rob is right. I have allowed things like jealousy and mistrust to come between us. 

She could remember every detail of that day, seven years earlier when she and Rob stood pledging to love and cherish one another before God, friends and family. They vowed nothing, or no one would ever come between them. “Now and for all-time.” they each promised. Metaphorically, maybe they had separated long ago. It was like a gradual pulling away,  losing trust and respect for the other when they could not address the issues concerning their marital differences.

I am insane to think I could hike up here alone, without my husband who I know loves me. I acted more like a spoiled child than a mature adult.

When she turned around to start back wind gusts slammed into her with such force it threw her off-balance.  She screamed when a tree cracked, breaking on impact, sending large limbs crashing to the ground, missing her by inches.

Oh, God! How am I going to get out of this mess? I have really made things worse in my life, and Rob’s.

Snowflakes fell, swirling around in all directions as if caught in a whirlwind on their descent to earth.  The blizzard made visibility difficult for her to see the trail markers she’d passed earlier. She was not certain she was still on a path anymore.

Why didn’t I have the sense to bring a pair of hiking boots, and parka instead of these Nikes, and fleece windbreaker? The cold and snow has chapped my skin.  My bones and joints ache from the frigid temperatures.

Everything is so dense up here.  I may be walking in circles instead of on the marked path where I started. If I could just find a shortcut down from here, but, I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Unless the storm lets up…Well, I just won’t think those things.

She stepped carefully around the broken tree limbs. Sharp rocks protruded through an already thick layer of snow, and ice. All of it made her attempt to descend the ridge safely nearly impossible. Braced against a tree studying the clearing from where she’d come, she considered her options trying to determine which way to go.

She pulled out her cell phone and speed dialed Rob. It was useless. There was no signal. She was too far from any towers, if there were any around. Seven forty-eight her cell phone read. She had been gone over three hours.

The wind died down. She no longer heard the howling sounds from before. The storm was letting up, moving on, south into the Rockies.

The ground cover with the precipitation in the atmosphere lit up the mountain ridge making everything turn misty and bright. She stood under a tree, shivering, looking out over the mountainside at the beautiful sight. It looked like a picture postcard. The peaceful scene enveloped her in spite of her situation.  The brightly lit landscape before her would give her the needed light to find her way back.

She climbed carefully over the fallen tree, then began to work her self  down, stepping over slippery spots to place her feet firmly down into the ground cover.

She stopped. A noise not made by her own steps became louder when it came closer. It was then she noticed a small beam of light moving sideways, back and forth, then up and down probing the ridge she’d climbed hours ago. After a few moments it stopped, focusing its light towards her direction.

“Julie! Julie!” a voice called out.

Her heart raced. “Rob! Over here. I’m over here.” She said aloud, barely getting the sound out over her squeaking, hoarse voice.

She would never find a word to describe the sweet relief that sent her soul soaring and heart pumping when she heard his voice. Rushing to get to him she tripped, twisting an ankle, and tumbled several feet, A large boulder stopped her roll. Whimpering like a bruised pup, she leaned over to inspect her injured ankle, then carefully stood up, waiting for Rob as he drew near.

His arms grabbed her up, squeezing her near frozen body till she let out a painful grunt from his vise like grip. There was only a brief silence between them for the first few moments.

“Thank God, I found you! When the storm moved in I went looking. But, I didn’t know which way you’d gone, so started checking the trails. I thought you would just take a walk around the perimeter, not really hike up one of these trails, alone. You had me so worried. I was sure you’d gotten lost or hurt.”

“I strayed off the trail at some point losing my direction. Then, there was that huge tree that fell. I stumbled, tripping, and sprained my ankle, but I’m OK. Rob, I’m sorry for acting like that, and for the things I said. I had no right to accuse you of… and Serena too. Well, you’re here. That’s what matters.”

“Julie, listen. Trust me. No one, nothing will ever come between us. Believe me. I’m sorry too if I gave you reason to doubt that. You never lost me, Julie. You have always had my heart. I love you. Now, and for all-time. Remember?”

“I do. The words we pledged to each other the night we were married. ‘Now, and for all time.’ And I, Julie, pledge my love to you, Rob, now and for all-time.”

“You know, that hearth fire in the lobby would sure feel good to me about now.” She added, shaking.

His mouth came down on hers stopping her quivering lips and chattering teeth. His arms and firm chest felt as comforting as a thick wool blanket on her, she wanted only to snuggle in.

“We’ll do that, later. But, first we’re going to get back to our room, get these wet clothes off you, warm you up, and get your circulation going. Then I have plans for us, that include a bottle of Chardonnay, and a fire of our own, you and me, alone.”

“Really? I love it.” she said.

“Let’s get started then.”

************

Story by: Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Empty

The below story is fiction. It is my weekly 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers from this week’s photo prompt with the Madison Woods web site. Feedback and comments are welcome.

******************

Empty. The kitchen felt cold, dark. Devoid of life. Like her.

Soon, she would be out of here. Time to move on. She picked up empty boxes and began packing.

They’d fought, both saying harsh things. She lost their child to miscarriage, the baby she’d longed to have.

She swiped at her tears. God, I tried to save our marriage, to keep him happy. But, he still left, with her! What else could I have done?

Floor boards squeaked. She swung around.

“Who’s there?” she asked in a quivering, small voice, shaking.

Gasp! “You!”

“I’m sorry. Can we try again?”

*******************

Posted October 5, 2012 by Joyce in Fiction, Friday Fictioneers, Short Fiction, Writing

Tagged with ,

Friday Fictioneers – Sept., 28, “Pagoda”

“Pagoda”

It was our ‘pagoda,’ just an old stone shrine in San Francisco’s China Town. We stood here declaring our love, thirty years ago.

Today, I stand alone with a tattered copy of our vows to each other, reading mine, shaking, and weeping with every spoken word or phrase.

Only the silence answers me back.

The birds sing their woeful song to my grief-stricken soul.

Our wedding day. We laughed, running to catch the trolley car when he fell, got caught underneath, and was crushed to death.

I never remarried.

“Clang! Clang!”

The death knell of that hated trolley.

************************


Posted September 27, 2012 by Joyce in Fiction, Friday Fictioneers, Short Fiction, Writing

Tagged with

Poem – THE DUEL

THE DUEL

Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson © 2009

 

A blushing face under a bonnet one day

Stopped my heart and roving eyes that May.

With swishing skirt she coyly walked,

  Her voice, a soft whisper when she talked.

Could she have known? Did she see?

Could she tell from my look how she affected me?

She was like sweet nectar on a flower to be

  Planted beneath the old withered tree.

 Some will say that love is blind,

  That eyes cannot see what the heart doth find;

 A moment of pleasure, a moment in time,

 No word spoken and no thought of mind.

 Like a love that is destined from the start

 Like a bud in bloom from out of the heart.

 Pledging her love that day to me

We embraced beneath the old withered tree.

But there came another. Bold was he

intent on stealing my sweetheart from me.

“Too experienced in love,” they say,

he charmed his way to her heart that May.

His reputation followed. Stories told

 of “a man who broke hearts, was callous and cold.”

I hoped she’d come back and want only me

to be married beneath the old withered tree.

Her hair in the wind, her face from the sun

  trying to protect me, she started to run.

Wanting to shield me, she came to cover

my body from the bullet, the one from her lover.

She fell silent to the ground alongside me

 her skirt turning red against my knee.

I carried her back to the spot where we

  once sat beneath the old withered tree.

Yes, I was in love, and I was the fool

to challenge her lover to a duel:

the man who stole from me is now gone.

My remorse and regret adds more upon

 my guilt and the sound of the wind like a song

singing a sad refrain of what I did wrong:

it plays a eulogy for my sweetheart where she

   lies buried beneath the old withered tree.

***************

 

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