Monday, March 25, 2013

A Thought for a story... BY THE SEA

She was standing at the water’s edge, her feet rubbing against the rocky shoreline, cutting small nooks into her callouses, but the pain never registered.  She looked out at the raging waves that rolled in with a thunderous rhythm.  She wondered where he was right now.  Was he even still alive?  He left weeks ago with his crew.  They went out into the sea wanting to hook the catch of the season.  Her life hardened expression does not suite her finer structure, but this was the kind of life that aged a soul early.  She was destined to wait in pain, knowing her loved one may never return again to her arms.  The waves kicked up spray that left a gentle mist over her face; they blended with her tears, making them vanish to the eye.  If only she had the strength to stay away from him…. But alas, she was here, waiting for her man to return home.  She prayed that her heart would not be broken.  God speed, my love.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

A vignette about a trolley ride by Elisabeth Zguta

Watching Black Birds From An Old Trolley
A short story by Elisabeth Zguta

A breeze whipped across the empty street causing the noise and clatter of paper and debris, as it hit the sidewalk’s edge, following its wake.  I felt the briskness of the wind hit my cheeks, and I knew from the stinging that my face was red from the weather.  I was standing at the curb, under the roof of the trolley stop platform.  I reached up and pulled my hat tighter trying to stay warm and crushed my long curled strands in the process.  I needed to catch the trolley to cross town and had been standing here waiting for the next train.  Minutes went by as I leveraged my weight from one foot to another, and kicked my tall leather boots together as I tried to keep the chill out of my bones.  Then I heard the ting ting of the trolley.  The wheels rubbed against the iron rails and the rolling rumble sounded soothing to my ears.  A deep vibration was felt by my cold feet as the old vintage trolley stopped in front of me.

The trolley screeched to a halt and I stepped up, holding onto the brass railing for balance.  The dollar I had been tightly holding in my hand was fed into the meter and I watched as it crunched the money into the slot.  The wooden slatted seats were mostly empty, so I maneuvered up to the front and sat behind the driver.  He was dressed in a dark blue uniform and matching jacket, and he spilled over the confines of his seat.  He wore a hat like security men wear, and then I noticed his eyes and his face which was lit up like stars, reflecting light on his sweating brow. There was one other man already seated up front.  He was young, his dark hair slicked back away from his face, and then curled at the ends.  The style exposed his sculpted facial features.  He was handsome, with a darker skin tone and a pleasant shade of hazel eyes.  His face was cordial and smiling.  He wore casual clothes, not expensive but trendy.  A camera hung around his neck by a thick leather strap, and he bobbed his head from side to side, watching the street as if looking for something.

The trolley moved forward and we both jerked a little as the tugging of the motor hedged forward.  Ting ting, again the bell was heard as the trolley passed through perpendicular streets and warned the pedestrians.  The windows were shut and the inside of the car had welcomed warmth.  The young man started to talk with the driver and they chatted about the downtown area.  Their conversation was friendly, peppered with distinct drawls and accents of the local area.  The driver was a big man, with a very friendly voice, and a content smile rose all the way up to his eyes.  He seemed to enjoy talking about the buildings we passed, and I too found myself listening to his guided tour.

In the first part of our journey we passed trendy cafes and sushi bars.  This was a newly remodeled area of Main Street, which attracted the younger crowd.  There were some art galleries and custom furniture stores too.  Then after Union Street we passed tall skyscrapers filled with office spaces.  The exterior walls were mostly art deco with prominent embellished details around the doorways and window jams.  There was one older building from the 1800's with a federal style, sporting long windows and scrolled edging.  Then we passed a few newer constructions, one a hotel that replaced an old torn down forgotten edifice.  This building had a newer modern twist to the design, with a chain store kind of appearance.  It could have been in any city's downtown, the same as in any other place, with nothing original to give it character.

Again some more clatter, ting ting, as we crossed another major intersection.  Then we changed direction and began to run down tracks leading us towards the city's river front.  The driver pointed out rubble of an archaic building, and he told us about how that was the place where slaves used to be sold.  A shiver ran down my spine as I thought of all the misery that had inhabited that space.  It was like looking at hallows of an old prison, with visions of death and injustice.  Now it was just cracked stone, and fallen crumbling walls, a reminder of an evil that once prevailed here.  Ting ting, we kept rolling along.

Finally the young man sat up and began tugging at the window.  This trolley was old, with wooden framed windows that had swelled through the years of humidity.  He tugged at the swollen frame until he gained purchase and pulled the window down to free his view.  Out came the camera and he snapped away at the scenes around the river front.  There were old steam boats in a distance, and some small islands off the shore, filling the middle of the wide river with a diversion, and breaking the view of the shores from the other side.  The bridge leading out of the city was high above us, it spanned across the wide river with rounded arches that looked like wings, and the young man snapped a few shots of that too.

The driver stopped at a light and we waited until it turned green.  I noticed a flock of blackbirds squawking away as they lay covering the lawn of the riverside park.  Their sound was heard through the open window, they were eerily loud.  Chirps and squawks filled the air; there must have been thousands of the birds all gathering together making a ruckus.  A few louder caws of larger birds overshot the others’ sounds and then suddenly, as if given a cue, the flock started to ascend in synchronized waves into the perches of nearby trees.  The branches were barren of leaves and stood stark against the blue sky in its backdrop.  The birds flapped their wings and in a smooth rhythm, moved from the ground to the branches, and then in one final swoop, from the tree to the sky they soared.  They took off, fleeting by each other and rising in a large cloud of fluttering black wings and squawks of ear piercing high pitched noise.

The light changed and the trolley tugged and jerked as it moved forward.  The birds flew swiftly and were gone, out of sight.  The camera man was snapping at the river front, and then sat back down on the bench seat after he quenched his curiosity.  He smiled, revealing deep dimples.  He was pleased with his shots and progress, and I was happy he found what he desired.  The driver smiled too, as he pressed on towards the bluffs.

I sat there wondering when the spring would be here.  I wanted the empty tree branches to be filled with greenery, enough so the birds were hidden in the bright colored camouflage.  I wanted to hear the birds sing songs to each other instead of flocking as a mad group that was migrating.  I wanted a southern wind to be warm against my face, and kiss my cheeks with sunshine and color, instead of a stinging frozen bite.  I longed for spring, the rebirth of warmth.

The trolley stopped, tinging its bell again.  This was my stop.  I got up, bent my head towards the men in recognition and left the trolley.  Hanging onto the handrail, I stepped down into the bitterness still hanging in the air.  Elusive spring, where are you?