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, October 15, 2012

Mavis is waiting in her car, wearing a pair of sunglasses like Audrey Hepburn. I notice she's also got on her yellow cardigan and the blouse with the embroidered collar she saves for special occasions. And her pearl earrings, to boot.  

"Aren't you just a picture," I say, taking my time to climb in, stowing my cane in the back seat.   

"Why thank you, Betty, dahhling," she says.

At the restaurant it takes us ages to get settled into our booth because I'm slow on account of my bad hip, and Mavis isn't so steady on her feet these days either. Once we're seated, I notice she's still wearing those glasses.

"You worried about paparazzi, Mave?" 

"Always," she says and leaves them on. 

We get the usual: two cheeseburgers with extra pickles, two milkshakes (hers strawberry, mine vanilla) and a large order of french fries. 

When the fries arrive, I dump them onto the paper lined tray. I bite the tip of a packet of ketchup and tear it open with my teeth. It says: "fancy ketchup," but it's the same as all the other ketchups. Still, it's nice to have the suggestion of class. Like those sunglasses. 

I squirt a little dollop onto the paper. Mavis does the same on her side of the tray. We're quiet for a moment, performing this little ritual. 

Mavis and I have been meeting for hamburgers on Sunday afternoons since we were seventeen. Can I say something? These afternoons with Mavis, without our husbands when they were still alive, or our children, before they got lives of their own, were some of the best times I ever had.

"How are you, Betty?" she asks.

"Can't complain," I say, licking salt from my fingers, "but I probably will. Would you take those cotton-pickin' things off now?"

When she does, it finally hits me why she insisted on wearing them. Mavis's eyes have never been able to hide a thing.

"What's happened?" I ask.

 She looks at the fries for a long time and when she speaks, she speaks to them.

"It's just that my cancer's come back. And it's inoperable this time."

I'm searching for something to say, when Mavis starts to cry. And an old face like hers crying is just about the most pitiful thing you could ever see. It's like a building falling over. 

So I do the only thing I can think of. I take the fancy ketchup and I squirt the whole packet onto my face. She pauses for a moment, staring at me and then she starts to laugh. 

And I join in, both of us laughing through our tears.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Casual Fridays: Not Writing

Hi guys, it's Britt. 
I dunno if you noticed, but I didn't post a story this past Monday.
Here's the little convo that went on in my mind early Monday morning:

Britt 1: "All right, let's get cracking." 

Britt 2: "Forget it. You're tired and you won't write anything good anyway. And it's Thanksgiving and you deserve a break." 

Britt 1: "Well, okay. You're probably right."

Here's the thing about Britt 2. She's a liar. She tells me it would be easier not to write, and I believe her. 

But then, as the days pass and I'm still not writing, this is what I turn into: 


An old teacher of mine used to say: "know thyself." And here's what I've learned about my writing process. I need to write something every day. Even if it's a journal entry, or a rant, or a letter. Even if it's total crap.

What about you guys? What do you need to do regularly, or you'll turn into a little troll?

This Monday I'm going to post a story, folks. No matter what.

xo Britt

p.s. My nephew, Charlie. Isn't he great?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Casual Fridays: Better than the boob tube

Hi guys. It's Britt. If you are going to be in Toronto during October 18th-28th and you love literary happenings, check out the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront. 

There are heaps of wonderful writers reading from their works, as well as lots of great talks and round-table discussions. Every time I've ever attended an IFOA event, I've left feeling inspired.

Why not try something a little different than a night of watching t.v.? (Sadly, they don't let you bring popcorn to the writer talks, though.)

Happy Turkey (or Tofurky) weekend story makers, see you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt 
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stephano, the blue ballpoint pen was feeling used. He was tired of being forced to write Jane's grocery lists. He longed to compose songs and poetry, to write mathematical equations or love letters. 

What was the point? Jane made endless to-do lists, and cooked food for her husband, Richard that they ate in silence.

"I quit." Stephano told the rest of the office supplies, "I want more than this." 
"You can't quit," they said, "you're a pen." 

Stephano started making a plan and asked for help. The ruler wanted nothing to do with it. He was old and rigid. The erasers were bloated and complacent. They ignored him. 

"I'm with you, good chap," said a back and gold fountain pen, "I was certainly designed for greater things." 

"Me too," piped a red felt tip. 

The highlighters, who were by nature a bit rebellious, got on board immediately. 

The protest started on a Wednesday morning. Jane plucked Stephano from the holder and pressed his tip against the page. "Onions," she wrote, but no ink came. The pen left only faint indentations in the paper. 

She tried a second pen, and another word. "Tuna." Nothing. She tried another and another. They had all gone dry. 

Do you know what a breaking point is? It's a moment when a seemingly small thing affects something much larger. 

Jane looked out the kitchen window for a long time. Then she picked up Stephano and started again.

"Dear Richard," she wrote, and at first it was just scratches, just ghost words on the page, "I need you to know the truth. I haven't been happy for a long time." 

As Jane wrote, the ink started to come.