A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

That Margaret's got a lot of nerve. 
On Monday we were all meeting at our shopping buggies, as usual, to go and get our groceries done, and Margaret arrived with Louis Middleton in tow.
It was outrageous: him being made a widower not ten months before, and then up they come, grinning like teenagers. Vera and I gave him a look fit to raise the dead.

We weren't thrilled about having to wait for the likes of them either, because Price Chopper had bananas on for thirty-nine cents a pound and chicken pot pies three for five dollars. While quantities last. 
(My dear William used to love those pot pies. He's been gone five years and I still can't stop buying them on sale.)
"Sorry I'm late," Miss Margaret purrs, smiling as if we're in cahoots. 
I notice she must've put a rinse in her hair, because it's not looking so grey.
It's no use fancying yourself up this late in the game, Missy, I want to say to her. We're all just "While Quantities Last."

At Price Chopper we usually stick together, but Louis seems not to know this, because he starts wheeling Margaret's buggy like it's the Indianapolis 500. Vera's knees are shot and my hip is bothering me so we let him barrel ahead, but then I see what's he's after: there's only one bunch of sale bananas left.

Hip-be-damned, I'd rather drop dead than let Louis Middleton get those bananas. I veer around the peppers and bypass the potatoes. I don't see the baby stroller until the last minute. I swerve to miss it, and crash into a holiday display of mixed nuts in the shell. Well, you can imagine what happened next.
Louis got those bananas. And didn't he just break the bunch it in half, and give some to Miss Margaret? The nerve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks for stopping by to check out my blog. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been focused on trying to get some tire swing stories up, so that when people get here, there’s actually something to read. (Scroll down to check out a story or two.)

What is a tire swing story, you might ask? 

A tire swing story is a (400 word or less) tidbit, inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique-store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. I chose the name “tire swing stories,” because a tire has lived many lives before it ends up as a swing.

There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday, and Fridays—well, Fridays I’ll ramble on about writing, rummage sales, life, love and coffee. (In no particular order, and maybe all at once.) 

And now I am going to include a few shot from one of the BEST flea markets I’ve ever been to. It was in Vilnius, Lithuania the summer of 2009. I was in Lithuania to do a creative writing course, and I explored Vilnius’s nooks and crannies, feeling rather “writerly.” I went to this market with my lovely, talented friends, Mona and Julia. This market was jam-packed with amazing finds and all sorts of colorful characters. Check this out...
 Imagine all of the possible tire swing stories there! 

Have an inspired weekend, and hopefully I'll see you back here on Monday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When Lisa watched Meg marry Lance, she wore a bird pinned to her hat. 
The hat was white mesh, and gigantic. She bought it at a party store. Lisa could hear the hisses of frustration from the people sitting behind her. She didn’t care. She needed the hat for the bird. And the bird was for Meg. 

When Meg first told Lisa about Lance, her cheeks were flushed and her eyes stayed fixed on the crumb-covered restaurant tabletop. “It’s love,” she’d said.
Up at the altar, Meg was wearing a veil. Lisa wished she could see her best friend's face.
One night years ago, a bird hit Meg’s front window and broke its wing. Lisa and Meg made a nest in a cardboard box out of old t-shirts. By morning, the bird had died. Meg sat beside the box with her knees tucked in to her chest and cried. Lisa leaned in and kissed the tears from Meg's cheeks. She can still remember the sound of Meg crying over that bird, and the salt-taste of her. 
Lisa looked down at the little organza bag of rice on her lap. An usher, one of Lance’s buddies had stuffed it into her hands when she arrived. “To throw afterward,” he’d said. She remembers reading that throwing rice at weddings is dangerous for birds. Something about how it expands in their stomachs and they explode. She is considering this, and looks up in time to see the newlyweds heading up the aisle and through the double doors.

Monday, November 22, 2010

“Hang up and try again,” says the operator. 
I put the phone down and count my remaining quarters. Two left. Enough for one more call.  I reach under my hat to scratch my head and my fingers come back greasy. There’s grit under my nails. I’ve got half a smoke in my back pocket, but no light. I could use these last two quarters to get myself a pack of matches. But once a fool, always a fool, and so I slide my money into the slot and punch the buttons.
“The number you dialed is no longer in service. Please hang up and try again.”
It’s cold today. I stomp my feet. There’s a frozen gob of spit on the concrete beside my boot. I’ve always hated the cold. Annie never did. She used to lay on the roof at night, even in the winter. She’d wrap herself up in blankets and look at the stars. She said you could see em’ better the colder it was. One time we were out there together, her in a mountain of blankets, just looking up. I was smoking and watching her. She asked if I knew any of the stars’ names.
“Course,” I said. I pointed at the brightest two.  “That one’s Greg, and there’s Annie.”
She liked that. Us stars up there together, shining for all time. 
I remember those matches in the bottom of my duffel bag, and start digging for them. My hands are barely working now, they’re so stiff with cold. The daylight’s fading, and I know I gotta get moving, get myself set up somewhere for the night. 
In the bottom of my bag, I find a black marker. On the window of the phone booth, I write what I would’ve said to her. It’s all I can do.

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Marianne’s third date with Warren, he fiddled with his breadstick and said he had something to tell her. 
“Kids,” she thought, “he’s got kids.”
A goose.
He brought it over to her house, tucked under his arm like a bottle of wine. 
They sat on the couch with the goose in between them. Marianne wanted things to work, and so she turned to the bird and smiled her most winning smile. 
It pecked at her ear and swallowed her rhinestone clip-on earring.
The goose was a miserable beast. It defecated all over the driveway and scared the cat up a tree. It ate bald patches on her lawn. At night, Warren insisted the goose join them in the bedroom, and whenever they made love, it perched on the pillows and watched, bobbing its head.
Marianne told Warren it was the goose, or her.
“Don’t be silly, Marianne,” he said.
She thought that maybe she and the goose just needed a fresh start. She bought it a kiddie pool to splash in. The goose ate through the plastic lining of the pool and began joining her in the shower. It hissed whenever she turned off the tap.
Not long after that, Marianne discovered Warren was cheating on her with his office assistant.
She went home and ran over the goose with the car.
The stuffed goose sat on Marianne’s front porch. Mid-afternoons when the sun was hottest, its shadow provided the perfect patch of shade for her napping cat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gramma comes to visit me sometimes, but I’m not allowed to tell Mom.
I tried to talk about it once, but Mom shut her bedroom door and didn’t come out until dinnertime. I wrote notes that said: “Mom, are you okay?” and “Mom, I'm sorry I hurt your feelings,” and slipped them under the door. Later, when I put my cheek to the floor and looked through the crack, I could still see those folded notes lying there.
The next time Gramma came, she told me I’d better not mention it to anyone.
Gramma doesn’t look any different. Her hands still feel papery-soft. She smells the same too, like flower perfume and baby powder. That day, she didn’t mind sitting down for tea at my little table by the window, even though her knees came way up almost to her chin. She was wearing her favourite purple suit, and lipstick.
I thought she looked pretty and I told her so. She ran her fingers through my hair and said: “How are you these days, pet?”
Dad has started sleeping in the den. It’s no good trying to watch The Muppet Show in a room that smells like cologne and has your Dad’s shirts hanging from the curtain rod. I said this to him and he told me to go to my room. So I stomped up the stairs as loud as I could.
Yesterday, Gramma and I were playing dolls and I asked her what heaven is like. She said, “Charlotte, heaven is a place where every wish you could wish comes true.”
In my heaven, all the doors in this house would fall off their hinges and none of us would be able to shut them again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

He was there first, waiting quietly on the countertop, crumbs scattered beneath him. Before she arrived, he never cared about his mess. He pretended not to notice her at first, but couldn’t stop sneaking glances at her smooth, polished surface. 
She had buttons and dials that sent her from warm to broil with a flick.
There wasn’t room enough for the two of them in that kitchen.
He was relocated to the cupboard. She sat smugly beside the blender. He was jealous then. Of the way she cooked a perfect turkey. That she was self-cleaning. The cheerful sound her timer made when she was finished.
(He had no dinging sound, just an almost-inaudible pop.)
He started burning waffles.
It wasn’t long before he found himself by the back door.
And as he sat in a cardboard box without a chance of sighting her, he felt a loss deep in his coils. Forgotten, he dwelled in his pain and loneliness for a long time.
Then one day, she appeared beside him. She was rusted and sticky with food and her door creaked, but he knew it was her.
At the curb, they sat side by side, looking out together and contemplating the end of their days. And he was immeasurably glad.