Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Goodbye Sarah

Carrie did not believe in ghosts.  Her family always said that her grandparent’s old house was haunted by the ghost of Sarah.  Carrie spent her happiest childhood days at this house and didn’t believe the stories.  She did believe in saying goodbye to memories.  And that belief led her to her grandparent’s abandoned home days before it was scheduled to be demolished.

As Carrie walked through the derelict remains of her grandparents’ Victorian home, in every room she caught a glimpse of something white flickering at the edge of her vision.  In the dining room she chalked it up to the strong light that flooded through the large front window. As she carefully climbed the rotten staircase she credited the white flicker to the curtains that fluttered in a breeze created by a cracked windowpane. While she explored the gloomy long abandoned bedrooms she suspected the fluttering at the edge of her vision was caused by lightheadedness due to the trapped stifling air. 

Carrie reentered the kitchen on the main floor intent on getting a drink from the cooler she left there when she went exploring. Instead she found a brown-eyed girl wearing an old-fashioned chiffon dress and a solemn expression.  Before Carrie’s eyes, the solemn girl flickered out of sight.  Carrie whispered to herself, “Goodbye, Sarah.” Although Carrie did not believe in ghosts, it was hard to dismiss the appearance and disappearance of the girl in the white chiffon dress.

Pizza Time Craft!

Who doesn't love pizza? I know I do, and I am especially in love with this fun pizza craft that my little dude made at the library this morning during Mrs. D's class. It's a deliciously clever re-purpose of a paper grocery sack and it goes perfectly with this week's theme of "Pizza Time!" Here's how you and your child can enjoy making a guilt-free treat at home.

{Clever and Calorie-Free Pizza!}


  • brown paper grocery sack
  • scissors
  • colored paper (red, yellow, green, black, gray)
  • brown (or red) craft foam (or paper, if you don't have foam)
  • hold punch
  • glue stick


1. Cut a large triangle from the side of an empty brown grocery sack. Flip it over so that the plain brown inside is on top and curl the end up slightly to make the "crust."

2. Cut a slightly smaller triangle from red paper to make the "sauce." Bonus points for making the edge that goes by the crust wavy -- nice, but not necessary if you are craft-impaired.

3. Cut several "toppings" from colored paper or craft foam. (These do NOT need to look perfect! They might get covered over, anyway, so don't sweat it.) Some items that Mrs. D. offered included:
  • yellow strips for "cheese"
  • narrow green triangles for "peppers"
  • black circle with hole-punched centers for "olives"
  • brown/red foam circles for "pepperoni"
  • gray "mushrooms" (semi-circles with a rectangular "stems")
4. Give your child a glue stick and let him add "sauce," "cheese," and "toppings" to his slice of pizza. There is no wrong way to do this and you'll be interested to see what your little one will create. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Path Publishing Journals

From writing down gardening information to kidisms to advice to happy thoughts to critical information, head to for great journals.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paper Bag Monkey Puppet

The theme of this week's A to Z with Mrs. D. is 5 Little Monkeys. Who doesn't enjoy the finger play that goes along with that story? I know I do, but my heart has really been stolen by this adorable monkey puppet! I love his quirky grin and the way that it looks like he is about to give me a big hug -- so like my own little monkey, the creator of the puppet.


  • brown lunch bag
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • construction paper (brown, tan, black)
  • crayons
  • stapler


1. Cut all pieces including:
  • large brown oval for tummy
  • smaller brown oval for mouth
  • 2 brown half circles for ears
  • 2 tan "mittens" for paws
  • 2 long brown rectangles for arms
  • 1 narrow brown strip for tail
  • tan heart -- with the tip cut off to make a flat edge on the bottom -- for the face
  • 2 black circle for eyes (can also use a hole punch or two googly eyes)
  • small black oval for nose (or a larger circle punch, button, or pom pom, if your prefer)

2. Set a brown lunch sack on the table so that the flat bottom is facing up. This will be the monkey's head. The open end of the bag will be pointing down.

3. Have your child use a glue stick to assemble the monkey. Start with the oval for the belly and the "heart" for the face and then add the other brown oval for the mouth. Next, adhere the nose, ears, eyes, and arms. Younger kids may need some help with this. Tip: Make sure that no glue gets stuck in between the flat part of the bag and the and the head because then it will be difficult to use the puppet.

4. Curl the narrow brown paper strip around your finger and then staple it to the back side of the puppet, near the bottom, to make the monkey's tail.

5. Let your child use crayons to add a mouth and other details like fur. The puppet is now ready to be played with!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Collaboration #3: When we were Friends

Gloria stared at the name on Facebook.  Images from long, LONG ago came flooding back.  Two little girls walking arm in arm to school, giggling, their heads together.  In class, desks side by side.

High school.  Heads still bent together, giggling about boys, teachers, homework.  What if one made the cheerleading squad and the other didn't?  Yeah!  They were both in the school play.

Popular and inseparable.  Even when the boys asked the girls out, they knew it would be a double-date. 

So why, Gloria demanded of herself, staring at Lydia's picture: why had she done what she'd done?

Ah, the joys of social media.  Gloria and Lydia had befriended each other a little over a year ago and now all Gloria could think about was finding a way to de-friend her . . . twice, if possible.  The only reason her fingers hovered over, yet never pressed, the "are you sure?" dialog box was because she needed answers.

Gloria needed to know how her best friend--her forever-we've-got-interlocking-necklaces friend--could marry the one guy in high school who'd stolen (and kept) Gloria's heart all these years.  The one guy she'd always hoped to run into at the local mall, and flutter her hand to her face, casually saying, "oh, I didn't know you still lived in the area" or "my, my, you haven't changed a bit."  The one guy that still robbed her of a good night's sleep when memories of hot, steamy evenings hanging onto each other in the front seat of that old Dodge, with the steering wheel interfering like some aged, spinster aunt, would invade her dreams.

She'd loved her husband of twenty-five years, hating him with a passion when he decided to have a massive heart attack at the young age of 54.  Now, after five years of her skin rarely feeling the sensual comfort of another human being, she could barely get through a day without wondering where and what her high school sweetheart might be like.

Except . . . now she knew.  He'd wedded and bedded Miss Lydia D. Smitheray and, there was no doubt there would come a day Lydia would schedule a luncheon for the three of them.  To reminisce.  To talk about the old days.  To be a witness of how she and him would cordially converse across the table.

Well, it wasn't going to happen.  Gloria's finger pressed closer to the keypad to de-friend the now Mrs. Lydia D. Corvenowski.  But she couldn't do it.  Instead she moved the cursor to the little "x" in the upper right hand corner and watched as the website closed out.

She'd think about it tomorrow.   

Morning coffee in hand, Gloria logged into her Facebook account, dismissing the fleeting thought that she was quickly becoming addicted to social media. There is nothing wrong with being connected, she reminded herself. Ever since Paul’s death she had felt the need to work harder at personal relationships. After all, one never knew when somebody important would suddenly be gone -- or when somebody who used to be important would suddenly turn up again.

Gloria noted a new request at the top of the screen and smiled to herself. Lydia, ever the social butterfly, had sent her an invitation to join a new group. Help plan the 40th reunion? Couldn’t hurt. Heaven knows I have the time… Gloria’s smile vanished as she realized that she had another request, this one more personal.

A friend request from Frank Corvenowski? Gloria hesitated. I wonder if Lydia knows? Well, I suppose there’s only one way to find out.  She clicked the “accept” button.

What was she thinking!  No!  Come back!  Oh, this was foolish.  He had no clue she was still thinking about him after all these years.  Her heart didn't need to race like this at the mere mention of his name.  He probably hadn't aged well, anyway.  So . . . now as a friend she could look and see.  Click.

Oh, isn't that lovely.  Here he is with Lydia on vacation, here he is with Lydia sharing a laugh and a drink.  Well, don't they look like the happy two-some?

Yes, Frank looks good, well, average.  Okay, for our age, he looks great.  I'm happy for Lydia.  I was happily married to Paul for years.  Happily married for years! Gloria reminded herself.  I am happy for Lydia.  Happy for Frank and Lydia. 

Yeah, keep telling yourself that. 

The following morning when Gloria logged into Facebook, there it was: a personal message from Frank, sitting in the open like a ticking bomb. Should she open it? She glanced over her shoulder uneasily and then laughed at herself. Paul had been dead for years. He couldn’t possibly be angry, but why did she feel so guilty? Unsure, she stared at it while considering the possibilities.

What could Frank have to say to me after all this time? Especially considering that he had done the unthinkable, marrying my so-called best friend. It’s all in the past, Gloria, calm down. No! What business does he have becoming my Facebook friend, anyway! The nerve of some people…

Seeing the colorful bubbles of the screen saver fill her computer screen yanked Gloria out of her reverie. Those bubbles reminded her of more carefree days, a time in life when she didn’t have to look for ulterior motives behind every little thing that people said or did. That settles it, she thought. I’m sure his intentions are completely innocent and it will be nice to reminisce about the glory days of high school.

Clicking the icon, Gloria quickly scanned the brief message. Her mouth fell into an “O” as she read the few words that were entirely in capital letters:


Okay.  Did he mean today?  Like, right now? She looked at the clock.  9:33 a.m.  I'm still in my pajamas!  The man gives short notice!  That's so like him!  

Without another thought Gloria ran to her bedroom ripping through her closet, brushing her hair, trying to find which drawer held her contact lenses she hadn't worn in months and finally, putting her make-up on.  A quick brush of the teeth, reapplied lipstick and fingers through the hair.  She tried smiling in the mirror several different ways.  The surprised, "Is that really you?", the coy, "Hello there, stranger," or maybe the aloof, "I'm really busy, Frank, however, you sounded desperate."   

10:22 a.m. Okay, I am really going to be late.  This isn't my fault!  Does the man think I stay up all hours of the night just to see if he writes me?  She slammed the car door and pealed down the driveway.  Wait a minute.  Maybe it's good I show up late.  Let him know this was in NO way a big deal for me.  I took my time.  Hmp.  My nails look atrocious.  Maybe I should go have those done first.  

What am I thinking?  What if the man of my dreams -- I mean -- the old man of my old dreams -- doesn't wait?  Look at the time!  What if he's already left?  I should have called the coffee shop and paged him! 

Gloria floored it.

Time 11:02 a.m.  Maybe she had the wrong day.  After all, it didn't appear to be a good day as she sat studying her speeding ticket. Maybe, just maybe, maybe she had the right day and maybe it’s going to be a good day after all.  Gloria loves that word; maybe, as she smiled to herself.  Maybe!  
Gloria floored it.

When Gloria arrived at “Coffee Joe’s”, the local coffee shop, she quickly but nonchalantly scanned the room for the “old man of her old dreams”.  Her heart dropped when she missed spotting him.  Even though she saw his Facebook albums and she had stalked him relentlessly, she was still searching for the 18 year old Frank, not the “old man Frank”. Disappointed, Gloria got in line to place an order.  

What was I thinking? Am I insane? Frank is married!  Frank is married to Lydia.  Frank is married to Lydia, my former best friend, Lydia. I saw the wedding pictures, and the honeymoon pictures, and the happy holidays photos…All the damn Facebook photos that show how happy they’ve been since reconnecting five years ago. Damn Facebook, making life so complicated and getting your hopes up!

Gloria’s phone vibrates in her pocket as she reaches the counter to place her order.  “Hang on a sec, please.” She tells the barista. “Dang smart phone is always tweeting at me about some dumb thing.” Gloria takes out her phone, sees that she has two Facebook notifications. She clicked on the icon and reads them. Frank Corvenowski changed his relationship status one hour ago to divorced.  Followed by a message; “Hey gorgeous Gloria, are you going to make me wait all day or just until you get your latte? I’m right behind you sitting by the window.”

Shocked and shaken Gloria stood there mind racing oblivious to the barista patiently waiting for her to pull herself together and equally so to the “old man of her dreams” walking up behind her.
Divorced?  They have only been married five years… Divorced? That means not married.  Poor Lydia, poor Frank. Divorced? Gorgeous Gloria? That means… that means… Maybe.  Maybe after all this time… Oh! Maybe!

Visibly pulling herself together, Gloria thanked the barista for waiting but she changed her mind about the latte, she turned and watched as Frank walk up to her.  While she watched, she looked him over. Not bad for an “old man, not bad at all. Gloria gave him her brightest, most hopeful smile.

Hurrying over to the table where Frank was seated, Gloria slipped on a discarded napkin. Stumbling, she fell forward, and found herself in Frank’s lap. How embarrassing!

“Gloria,” he said with a mischievous grin, “I’m glad to see that you are so quick to fall head over heels for me, but maybe we should slow down a bit.”

“Frank,” she replied, pressing her hands to her pink cheeks, “You are as charming as ever.”

If he thinks I can be won back that easily, he’s got another thing coming! Oh, who am I kidding? He hardly even needs to try. My heart has belonged to this man for longer than I can remember…

"So, um, how's Lydia?" Gloria asked as nonchalantly as she could.  She seated herself across from him.

"I guess she's doing fine," answered Frank.  "She walked out last week.  Said she'd met somebody else.  And then I remembered her telling me that your husband had croaked.  So . . . why not give you a call?"

Gloria stared at him.  She was to get Lydia's cast-off?  Croaked?  Not a fitting word for a man who had been a wonderful husband to her and great father to their two children.  

"Why would she do that?  I thought the two of you were so happy."

"So did I.  She's really been moving up the ladder at her corporate job.  I think it went to her head.  Yeah, I was with her through all the challenges and then dumped. I was very supportive of her."

"I'm so sorry.  So, what is it that you do for a living?"

"Well, I was Lydia's cheerleader," he laughed and took hold of Gloria's hand, "and now I'd like to be yours."

"I'm sorry," she said again, "am I to understand . . . you don't work?"

"One of Lydia's complaints.  Can you believe it?  She made really good money.  Enough for both of us.  I looked your husband up on LinkedIn.  He must have left you a bundle, huh?"

Gloria sat back pulling her hand with her.  "Yes, he did," she smiled.  "He also left quite a hole in my heart when he passed on.  I've never gotten over losing him."  She stood up.  It was feeling like a very good day.  "But I am definitely over you."

She was still smiling to herself, even though she was pulled over once again by the side of the road.  Two speeding tickets.  Two speeding tickets in one day.  Wouldn't her kids love to know about that.  But still she could smile.  Frank was out of her life and heart forever. 

The police officer that walked up was near her age, tall with an angular nose and straight teeth.  "We really need to stop meeting like this," she said gaily as she recognized him from having given her the ticket earlier in the day.

He nodded.  "Yes, I thought that was you flying by.  Do you always drive like this?"

"No, Officer, honestly I don't."  Still he got his pad out.  "Do I, maybe, get a discount for two tickets?"

"What do you think?" he asked.

"I'm thinking no but what I'm really wondering is: are you married?"  What has gotten into me?  I am never like this!  He's going to think I've been drinking.  And, first thing in the morning!  

He stared at her for some time and she was wondering if there was a ticket labeled 'flirting with officer' when she realized that yes, there was a ticket for that that fell under another name.  "I am terribly sorry --"

"I'm widowed," he said.

"Oh!  Oh, I'm so sorry.  I do understand.  I'm widowed myself.  Five years.  Still difficult at times."

"Yes, yes, it is," he said.  Slowly he wrote out her ticket and handed it to her.  "Please drive slower.  I'd hate to have to identify you at the morgue."

"I will, Officer.  Thank you.  I'm sorry.  You have a good day.  You -- I -- I'll drive slow." 

He got back in his car and drove off.  Well, there was a nice looking man my age who works, she said to herself.  She glanced down at her ticket.  Maybe, ah, there's that word again, maybe they won't cost too much.  Maybe, I can talk my way out of one of them.  Oh, heck, go for two.  Paul would have been able to pull some strings.  Maybe she could? 

And then Gloria looked again.  She flipped it to the back and then to the front.  No ticket, it was his name and phone number. 

A very good day, after all.  No maybe about it.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Although Jim only had fifteen minutes of oxygen left in his tank, he refused to return to the ship.  As his dive lamp shone in the murky darkness of the wreck’s hold he could see something that caught his attention.  Something glimmered in the low light; something metallic, something gold.

Money problems have been on his mind. Gold specifically, has been weighing him down and cutting off his options.  He was diving his last dive, one last gamble for the gold.  Granted it is an especially risky dive in shark infested waters, he thought, as he looked up towards the surface and counted the sharks that were circling in a holding pattern.

 One. Two. Three. Four. Five? Is that a fifth shark? Five, definitely five. He longed for the surface.

Fourteen minutes of oxygen left.  What to do? Jim thought through his options. On one side of the equation, he could turn back to the ship now, risk the sharks, and leave empty-handed. On the other side, he can stay down a little longer and leave rich.

Two minutes into the hold, two minutes out; ten minutes, hopefully, to the surface.  What to do? Decision made, Jim finned gently forward into the hold. Inside the hold, shadows gathered.  Jim’s dive lamp was a dim beacon in the dark hold.  

Creeping forward, Jim was careful not to stir the thick layer of silt that covered every surface… covering everything except the gold that continued to call him forward. The gold nagged him while he hovered, recalculating his odds. 

Ten minutes of oxygen left.  Approximately two minutes to the open water. Ten minutes to the surface. Ten minus twelve is negative two. Can he hold his breath that long he wondered?  The gold continued to call him forward. And there were the sharks that were continuing to gather; a variable in the equation.  As Jim reached the depressingly obvious conclusion he finned forward to touch the gleaming golden statue.

Eight minutes of oxygen left.  Not enough time. As Jim stroked the golden beauty’s hand he stared up into her face and heard the sire’s whisper in his head, “Health is the real wealth, not pieces of gold.” The siren snapped her other hand out grabbing Jim’s oxygen hose.  She disconnected the hose quickly and returned to her original serene pose. Jim blinked as he jerked back, disturbing the silt and creating a disorienting cloud, his dive lamp illuminating the silt and the steady stream of precious oxygen leaving his tank.

Zero minutes of oxygen left.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In Due Time: A Group Collaborative Story

7:47 P.M. I wasn’t always a clock watcher. It just started lately, like I’m waiting for something important to happen. Waiting for my life to turn around. I figure it has to at some point, you know?

“C’mon, girl, look alive! These people ain’t gonna serve themselves,” barked Dan, my boss and owner of Dan’s Diner. If you haven’t heard of it, consider yourself lucky. Dan’s not much of a cook, but I shouldn’t really complain ‘cause he keeps me on and all. And truth be told, I’m not much of a waitress, either. It’s not like it was my grand plan in life to be a waitress, but it pays the bills for now.

Only 13 minutes ‘til my shift ends. I sighed and hoisted myself off of the counter stool and padded over to the old bat at table 4. She comes ‘round this time most nights and orders a coffee and a slice of whatever “pie” Dan is serving that night. I don’t know her name, and she’s a miserable tipper, but we have an understanding. I don’t ask her about her personal life, and she doesn’t ask me about mine.

She’s the only customer who doesn’t give me The Look. See, most folks ‘round here eye me up and down. They can’t miss the apron straining ‘round my big belly – it’s gettin’ bigger by the day, I swear – and that tired look in my face like I’m gettin’ old before my time. And then they always check for a ring, which, of course I don’t have. I mean, really now, how many 19 year olds do you know who have a wedding ring?

Every now and then, some real jerk will make some sarcastic comment about how my name doesn’t suit. Chastity. He’ll spit it out like he’s got an awful taste in his mouth, like it’s a dirty word or something. Not my fault my mama pegged me with that name, not that it’s anybody’s business. Most folks are a bit nicer and they just shoot me The Look – the one that says “you poor girl!”

But this old lady, she’s different for some reason, gentler. Never looks at me with pity or judgment. It really makes me wonder why she hangs around a dump like Dan’s night after night. “Coffee and a slice of the pie, right? Tonight it’s cherry. Well, that’s what he calls it anyhow,” I told her with a wink.

7:49 P.M. I can’t forget that time, ‘cause it’s when my life suddenly changed. She laid her hand on my arm, which was real odd, and sort of whispered to me, “Not tonight, dear. I’ve got something very important to discuss with you. Please have a seat.”

I glanced over at Dan.  He'd just love to see me sitting while I'm supposed to be working.  But, really, it didn't look like anybody was in need of me and hadn't I been feeling that my life was going to change?  And soon?  I pulled out the chair and sat down.

She smiled and was quiet for a moment.  And then, "Have you been reading, on the internet, about someone going around the country and giving huge tips to waitresses?"

Oh, my gosh!  Yes!  Yes!  Of course I had read about this.  Had day-dreamed about $5,000 dropping into my lap -- or more!  My heart raced, the baby's heart raced (weren't we attached?). I cleared my throat.  "I have."

The old woman shook her head.  "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have started out that way.  I'm not going to do that."  Although I tried to keep my face passive, disappointment must have shown.  She patted my arm.  "But I do have something of value for you."

7:53 P.M. So this is the new norm.  I'd heard that said once but never really thought much about it.  I guess that constant drip-drip-drip of the bathroom faucet had become my new norm, seeing as there was no money to fix it.  Being pregnant and having to hover over the toilet more often than Dan scowled at me had also become my new norm.  A baby would eventually become my forever norm. 

But, this?  The old woman continued to stare at me, not saying a word, obviously waiting for me to collect my thoughts.  Yeah, right.  My thoughts had scattered to the farthest reaches of the universe.  This woman had just handed me a locket, which she'd slowly cracked open to show me two miniature pictures--a young gal and a baby--and told me the infant was me.  And the other was my mother.

"I'm sorry, dearie," the old woman finally gave up waiting for me to say anything.  "I didn't know any other way to tell you."

I could see Dan tilt his head toward another customer.  My cue to get a move on.  But my legs had turned to wood.  I wasn't going anywhere until this had been resolved.

"Don't dearie me," I said, turning back to the old woman.  "I don't have a mother, never knew her, and don't care to."

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7:56 P.M.  "Chastity, dearie...oops...sorry I called you "dearie" again after you asked me not to. It's just my nature. I know I'm not going about this very well. But everyone has a mother, whether you knew her or not. And if you don't care to know her...well, I suppose that's your prerogative."

Her voice trailed off, almost to silence as she finished her last sentence. She looked down to her hands in her lap. She was wringing them such that the skin wrinkled like waves in the surf at times whilst at other times it was pulled as smooth as youth itself. Would my skin be like that sometime in the future? Would I someday be just like this woman because she was...

I was conscious that my thought had trailed off just like her sentence had mere moments before. The silence, internal and external, was quickly shattered though. "Chastity! What the hell? Table 5 is waiting for their check." I'd really ticked off  Dan now. My head went back and forth between this old lady, the locket in my hands and table 5. What time was it...WHAT TIME WAS IT?

7:59 P.M. The old lady took the locket from my hands. I didn't understand what I was feeling. I wanted to keep it more than I wanted to give it back to her. And I wanted it gone a LOT. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have showed you this. I shouldn't have ever started coming in here. It took me all this time to even bring this up and I've handled it horribly. I'd better go." She stood and walked toward the door. I stood, stunned, for a moment and then rushed after. At least I had the presence of mind to hold up my index finger to table 5. "I'll be right with you."

"Wait," I yelled after her from the doorway. "Are you my mother?"

She turned slowly, only a half turn, her head pivoting so that she was almost looking towards me. "No," was all she said.

8:00 P.M. Like Cinderella rushing from the castle at the stroke of midnight, I waddled as fast as I could after the old lady.  “Don’t leave! Don’t leave me here!” I shouted as I followed her out of the diner; suddenly feeling very alone. “I want to come with you!” The old lady was nowhere in sight.

 Where did that come from I wondered, again not understanding why I felt so strongly.  I’ve seen her every night; same time, same place, same order, like clockwork. The old lady has shown every day since the day my monthly visitor didn’t show up.  Was the baby the reason she was here? I placed my hand protectively over my large belly.  The baby gave a small thump in answer.

Feeling abandoned and suddenly exhausted, I turned back towards the diner and Dan standing in the doorway.  He did not look amused.  “What the H was that about Chastity? I’m running a diner here, not a spa!” Dan bellowed.

“I thought she forgot something important.” I meekly squeaked out, while looking down and willing myself not to cry.  She did forget something important.  She forgot to take me home with her. Home. I want to go home.

I glanced at the clock on the wall. 8:04 P.M. My shift was over, but judging by the look on Dan’s face, I was gonna have to put in a few more minutes or risk having him skim a bit off my paycheck. Can’t afford that, not with the baby due to arrive in three weeks. I waddled over to table 5 and was relieved to hear that they were ready to order. I slid the order slip onto the counter and took a seat on the stool.

8:09 P.M. Dan frowned at me and nodded toward the mop bucket. Sighing, I slid down again, not so gracefully mind you, but I made it. At least pushing the mop around would give me a little more time to think. It seemed like I had been in a holding pattern for the past few weeks. That old lady is important somehow. Either to my past, my future, or both. Why didn’t she at least leave the locket? Believe it or not, it was the first time I had ever seen a photo of my mother!

 8:11 P.M. If she wasn’t my mother, then who was she? How did she get the locket? Unfortunately, I didn’t have any more time to ponder how I was connected to the old woman. Seriously?! This is not my night. Now, I’ve wet my pants, too. I giggled at my next thought, at least I’m already moppin’ the floor.

Slowly, it dawned on me, my water broke! Next thing I knew, I was doubled over in pain. I don’t remember what happened next. When I came to, I was in the back of an ambulance. Great! Who’s gonna pay for that? That was all I could think about, at least until another wave of contractions hit, and then I couldn’t really think at all. I wanted to pull myself into a fetal position, but I was strapped down.

That’s when I heard a vaguely familiar voice say, “Chastity, you have to breathe.” Easy for her to say! She doesn’t have some alien being trying to tear its way out of her body! Then, I felt guilty for thinking ill of my unborn child. I swear, I’m gonna be a good mother. Or at least a better one then my own mother was. “Chastity,” the voice repeated, drawing me back to reality.

I was startled to look into the eyes of the old woman, the one from the diner, the one I had foolishly believed to be some sort of fairy godmother. As if those exist! A million questions raced through my head, but I only asked one. For some reason, it seemed to be the most important. “What time is it?”

She patted my arm like she had done in the diner.  "So like your mother.  She couldn't handle it.  I hope you can."  I saw the locket was still in her hands and she opened it up, looking at the pictures once again.  She sighed and looked at my belly.  "Another generation is about to start.  It's time you knew the truth."
                                *                                         *                                      *

“Chastity, I’m so sorry.  So, so sorry. The truth is … The truth is you’re cursed. I’m so sorry, but I have to tell you right now.  Now, before the baby’s born.” She nodded towards my belly. “That’s the curse, you see.” She crooned sympathetically.  “I’m so very sorry. I’ve come to take you home, but she stays.  The baby stays here on earth.”

“Noooooooo!” I moaned through clenched teeth as the pain ripped through my belly. Tears streaked along my cheeks. I tried to fight the restraints to get away. Home. I’ve always longed for home.  

“I have to take you.  I wish I didn’t. All the generations of mothers I’ve taken and daughters that were left behind, each separation is painful. It’s my curse too.” The old lady confessed as she gently wiped the sweat and tears from my face.

As another pain clawed my belly, I looked deep into the old lady’s eyes and screamed, “No! No I will not go with you! I’m keeping my baby!”

8:20 P.M. The old lady spat out, “Chastity, do you think you’re the first mother to say that to me.  We’re already on our way.  Look around you.  You’re not in an ambulance.  Look close. It has begun.”
“NO-O-O-O-O-O-O! You can’t make me leave the baby! She’s mine!” I flew upright, clawing at the woman’s face. Wait, what’s going on? I’m not tied down any more? I’m not in the ambulance… or whatever that was! Where am I?

“Chastity, calm down. Nobody is trying to take you away from your baby,” said the old woman sweetly.“I don’t believe you!” I spat at her. There has to be somebody who can help me! I have to figure out where I am and how to get away. Frantically, I swung my head around. I saw pale green walls… White bed sheets…  I was hooked up to an IV. I’m in a hospital room? Am I safe here? Is she going to take me away from the baby?! I need help!

Then I noticed the clock, and I had to study it. I needed to know the time. 10:59 P.M. That can’t be right! The old woman followed my eyes to the clock and together we watched the hands move. 11:00 P.M. How did I lose so much time?! What happened?

As if reading my mind, she said gently, “You are safe.” For some reason that made no sense, I immediately felt relieved. I should have been horrified. After all, she had just been trying to kidnap me. I had a sense that this wasn’t the case, like it had been a bad dream or something. I sighed as I thought, I’m not going anywhere! It’s all okay.

She nodded, knowingly. Then she pushed a button beside my bed, and said, “Nurse, my granddaughter has awakened.” Before I could even register that last piece of news, a young nurse in bright pink scrubs hurried into the room and began checking my vital signs and asking me all sorts of questions. I realized that I had a terrible headache, and touching my hand to the back of my head, I felt a large bump. Although, compared to the pain of the contractions, it was minor.

“You’ve had a very eventful evening, haven’t you?” asked the nurse, consulting the read-out from one of the machines. You have no idea. First there was the attempted kidnapping, although, I’m not sure if that was even real. Then, I discovered my grandmother… She added, “The good news is that you shouldn’t have any long term damage from your head injury.” Head injury? What happen…  Out of habit I glanced at the clock. 11:12 P.M. I guess that explains the lost time. And that crazy dream about the curse.

The nurse derailed my train of thought, saying, “Your contractions are two minutes apart, you’re fully dilated, and it’s time to push, Chastity.” I nodded. This feels right. My grandmother held my hand the entire time. This feels right. I was focused on bringing my baby into the world, and I didn’t need to look at the clock again until someone had laid her in my arms. 

12:00 A.M. I’m a mother. This feels right. This was the big life change that I was waiting for. My grandmother (I still have a hard time saying that!) wiped a single tear from her eye, and noting the time, and laughingly said, “I suppose you could call her Cinderella.”  I instantly replied, “Her name is Hope.” The past no longer mattered. It was a brand new day, and I had a beautiful future to look forward to with my new family. Hope is what changed my life.