Prompt Fiction

Thursday Thread: The Problem is Not Mine

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

If you would like to play along, please write your version of the below prompt and post your link in the Mr. Linky. Anything goes – whatever inspires you. Me? I like to write about relationships, fictional or otherwise. 🙂

Write fast and furious – don’t edit – don’t think, just do.

This week’s prompt: This PostSecret.

The Problem is Not Mine

Janice studied her three children across the picnic table.

Brian, her youngest, smiled at her around a mouthful of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She reached across and gently swiped a dollop of jelly goo from the corner of his mouth. He muttered a response and Janice could only assume it was a thank you.

Ashley delicately nibbled on her sandwich before placing it back onto her plate. Her middle child worried her. She was an old soul and entirely too serious for her age. She couldn’t remember the last time she had actually smiled. Where was the happy, carefree little girl who had talked too much? She missed the easy grins and ready giggles. Now, she was lucky if she received any acknowledgement at all.

But she had no one to blame but herself.

“Ashley,” she began, her voice as soft as a long-haired kitten, “please eat. We’ve got a long road ahead and I’m not sure when we’ll get a chance to eat again.”

Ashley’s dark gray eyes lifted to meet her mother’s. They were filled with anger, yet tinged with sadness.

Janice sighed and turned to her oldest daughter, Chloe.

“Has she not been eating? When is the last time she had anything healthy? She’s a walking pile of bones …” Janice wrung her hands and glanced over her shoulder at the sound of crunching gravel.

Was that a car that just pulled up? She tried to peer through the thick branches of the trees that surrounded their picnic table, but she couldn’t see anything.

“Looking for the cops?” Chloe smirked.

Janice’s spine stiffened and she forced a bright smile. “Why would I be doing that?”

“Because we’re not supposed to be here,” Chloe nearly shouted. “Because YOU’RE not supposed to be here, mom.”

“Now Chloe,” Janice began and again glanced over her shoulder. Was that a male voice? She began to gather up their make-shift picnic. She didn’t want to alarm the children, but they needed to leave.


“Do you think we’re stupid, mom?”

Janice paused, a crumpled piece of plastic wrap clutched in her hand. She stared at her 15-year old daughter, then blinked. “Hardly,” she responded dryly.

“We know what’s going on.”

Ashley nodded and Brian suddenly became very still and his eyes grew round as his unwavering stare fixed on her face.

A slow flush crept up Janice’s neck and she suddenly felt hot, very hot, as if the very depth of her soul was on fire.

She cleared her throat. “Chloe, please don’t be dramatic. We’re just out having a nice picnic …”

Chloe sputtered a bitter laugh. “Are you for real? Mom,” she reached out and put a hand on her arm causing her to still in her attempts to clean up. “We know you have a problem.”

“Problem? Me?” She choked out a laugh and finished cramming the rest of their meager lunch into the paper bags. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You get us out of school early, then bring us to this isolated park,” Chloe began. “Don’t you think that’s a little weird?”

“No,” she whispered and then in a stronger voice. “No. I wanted to be with my children.”

“Then maybe you should have thought of that before screwing up your life.”

Janice gasped and abruptly sat back down on the hard, weathered seat. “What are you talking about?”

Chloe sighed and her shoulders slumped. She suddenly looked like an old woman. “Dad told us what was going on, mom. We know about your alcohol problem.”

All four were silent for long moments and Janice struggled to regain her composure before trying to explain. She opened her mouth to offer her excuses, the excuses she had spent just that morning practicing in the mirror when Brian interrupted.

“Do you love alcohol more than us, mom?” he asked in the smallest voice possible.

Janice moaned and a hot, searing pain traveled up her esophagus. “Oh God sweetie, no.”

“Then what are you doing?” Ashley screamed and swung her legs over the picnic seat. “Do you KNOW how worried we’ve been about you? Dad told us what was happening but he didn’t tell us WHY you’re doing this! To us?” She gestured to her siblings. “What is WRONG with you?”

“I .. I made a mistake,” Janice stammered. “I got depressed and I had a bit too much to drink, but I have it under control now–”

“You’re unbelievable,” Chloe spat. “Even now, after all you’ve put our family through for the last three months, you STILL can’t admit that you have a problem.”

“I DON’T have a problem,” Janice said through clenched teeth. “Your father is trying …”

“Dad is not doing anything. HE’S still at home. HE’S the one making our dinners every night and making sure we’re going to school every morning.” Tears began streaming down Ashley’s face and Chloe stood up and went to her.

Brian sniffled and ran the back of his hand across his nose. Janice began searching for a napkin to wipe his tears when she heard a voice – a male voice.

As if the voice electrocuted her, she suddenly stood up and reached for Brian. “We have to go,” she said, struggling to keep the panic out of her voice.

“No mom,” said Chloe. “You do. You need help.”

“She’s right,” a man said as he stepped into the clearing.

“Who are you?” Janice said and moved to stand behind her children.

“I’m with the Sheriff’s department, Mrs. Powell. I’m afraid you’re all going to have to come with me.”

“What?” Janice gave a nervous laugh. “We’re just having a picnic. You have no right,” she began.

Chloe interrupted her. “I called them, mom, when I went to the bathroom at the gas station. Dad gave me this cell phone,” she held out a tiny, pink phone, “last week. He said you might try this.”

“Try what?” Janice said while giving the police officer a look as if to say, “kids! What are you going to do?”

“To take your children, Mrs. Powell. There’s a restraining order against you, ma’am.”

Brian blinked and moved closer to his sisters. His big brown eyes glistened with moisture. “Mommy?”

“Oh, it’s okay, sweetie. Everything’s fine.” She tried reaching out for her son, but he shrunk away from her touch.

“If you’ll come with me, Mrs. Powell,” another officer stepped forward and Janice suddenly felt the urge to laugh. Where had he come from?

Janice watched as the first officer guided her children back through the woods. She craned her neck to catch one last glimpse of them before the foliage swallowed them whole.

“Those are my children,” she told the officer weakly. “I love them.”

“I’m sure you do, Mrs. Powell,” he said while pulling out his handcuffs. He gently grasped one of her wrists. His hands felt cold and hard. “You’re under arrest, Mrs. Powell. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Janice tuned the rest of her Miranda rights out and blinked back her tears. She didn’t have a problem. The problem was with her husband and his suspicions. She simply wanted to see her children. She hadn’t seen them for weeks. Why was that such a big deal?

The officer gave her a tender push to coax her into walking in the opposite direction from her children.

“They were worth it,” she said over her shoulder. “They were worth every mile.”

Feel free to take any of these graphics to post in your own blog entry:

Thursday Thread “mending fictional relationships”
Thursday Thread “mending relationships”
Thursday Thread – sidebar button #1
Thurdsay Thread – sidebar button #2

Monday Morning Meme

Monday Morning Meme – August 18th

All you have to do is answer the questions below either in the comment section, or on your blog. And elaborate! Make these questions show your unique and special personalities. This meme entry will post at 12:01 every Monday morning and will be the first postentry listed on WFK all day Monday morning. (This is an all-day Monday meme, so please, play all day!)

Stick around! I’ve got some announcements to make and I talk about marriage – the REAL deal later today!

Monday Morning Meme at

August 18th Questions:

1. You have a huge final project that is due in six weeks. When will you actually begin it? In other words, are you the sort of person who gets things done right away, or do you wait until the last minute? Why is this?

2. How often do you clean your house? (Be honest!) Do you think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other ever thank you for cleaning house? No one likes to clean, but what is the one thing you don’t mind cleaning?

3. Fill in the blank: I can’t believe you _______________! Now tell us the story behind this sentence (WHY did you fill it in the way you did?)

4. Be honest, how many times do you hit the snooze button? What time do you get up during week days? What time do you typically get up on the weekends? Are you a good sleeper? If so, why? If not, why not?

Monday Morning Meme Participants

1. Sue
2. Jodi
3. Dawn\’s Daily Life
4. annie
5. Jen at mommablogsalot
6. Where You At?!
7. Barb @ Hearts \’N Crafts

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


Not anymore. 🙂



Now, now, don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t yet another story about my ongoing struggle with my 15-year old son. That story is getting old (telling it and I’m sure ya’ll are getting tired of hearing about it).

No, this story is prompted by Absolutely Bananas’ Monday writing prompt: Travel Horror Stories. You know me, ANY excuse to write and I’m on it. 😀

I’ve never been an easy person to travel with. I don’t know, I used to get SO FREAKED OUT when we travelled. I mean, anal-freaked out. Did we have enough toothpaste? What about sunscreen? Did you pack the bug spray? For some odd reason, I thought it would be the end of the world if we had to shop at a foreign Wal-Mart. Pfft. What an idiot.

Anyway, my first horrific travel experience was my honeymoon. We flew to Cozumel, Mexico. We flew, to a different country. Okay, one, I had never been out of Missouri at that point, so just leaving my home state made me hyperventilate. But the country?! And of course, I had never flown before, so leaving the ground?! Someone hand me a tranquilizer! Needless to say, I cried when we first landed in Cozumel. I was in a different country and all I heard was Spanish. I was totally out of my element, a new bride starting a new life and I pretty much lost my head. Luckily, my husband, being the calm and rational man he is, patiently helped me adapt and we ended up having a good time (though I packed all the wrong clothes – it was stinking HOT there and I left the area with second degree burns – but hey, it’s all good. *grin*)

But that experience broke my travel cherry (wow, that sounds crude, doesn’t it – my apologizes) and from that point on, even though I’ve been nervous about traveling, I haven’t been as freaked out by the experience. For example, the husband and I went on a cruise for our tenth anniversary and I didn’t freak out once (though I did get sea-sick – but that’s another story).

And then, we started taking the boys with us when we travelled. I purposefully waited until they were older before we attempted such a feat. I knew me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle two small children and keep myself under control in the process.

We’ve been to the Florida beaches four times (Pensacola Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg and Sanibel Island), the Rockies and Washington DC and the boys have done great all the times we’ve travelled.

But the first time we took them on a plane, was a nightmare. Not because of anything they did, but because … well, let me start at the beginning.

I’m from Springfield Missouri. And contrary to what others may think of the area, this is a GREAT place to raise a family. We’re about 250,000 strong and we have plenty of space – our city isn’t stuffed into a small area, our crime rate is low, our schools are pretty good and our cost of living is CHEAP when compared to the rest of the country.

But we’re small. And our airport is no exception. (In fact, when we returned from our Washington DC trip a few weeks ago, we had to exit the plane on stairs as opposed to those cool exit, uh, thingies that they wheel out to the plane. Why? Because we were the last flight into town for that evening and everyone had gone home. I felt like I had walked into a 1940’s movie.)

So, the airplanes that leave our airport? Are small. And unreliable. There are a lot of “mechanical issues” (like not being able to find the oil cap and having to “borrow” an oil cap from another plane – yes, that really happened).

Me and my family are in the Springfield airport. And we’re eagerly waiting to board our plane to Dallas, because we have a connecting flight to catch to Tampa. (I think we were heading to St. Petersburg, Florida that year – but all of the Florida vacations are sort of blurry, so I can’t swear to that).

We board the plane.

And we wait. And we check the clock. And we continue to wait. And now we’re beginning to sweat (literally because they haven’t turned the engines on and there’s no air circulation and we’re all starting to get cranky and just a bit sick) because now the time we should have taken off has come and gone. Still, we wait some more. And finally, they tell us there’s a “mechanical issue.” And though the hubs and I aren’t terribly concerned about this, (it happens), this is the first time the boys have flown and start to freak out.

Now I’m stressed out. Why? One: we’re not going to make our connecting flight if we don’t leave immediately, and Two: I’m trying to act all “oh, it’s no big deal” to the boys so they will calm down but I’m thinking in the back of my head, “uh oh, just what IS this mechanical issue – are we talking something serious, or did a flight attendant over sleep?”

Thirty minutes go by and they finally have us disembark – they are going to bring us another plane.

Okay, by this time, our nerves are frayed. And we’re not exactly thrilled about them bringing us another plane – I mean, how RELIABLE is this airline’s planes now anyway? But we’d rather fly on a new plane than take a chance on the old plane, you know? After another thirty minutes, we finally board our new plane and head off to Dallas, Texas.

We land in Dallas and we have to RUN to catch our connecting flight. We’re terribly late and I know we’re probably not going to make it, but I’m praying there’s been a delay and we’ll be able to board anyway.

No dice. Our flight has taken off without us.

Now we’re stuck in Dallas and aren’t sure what to do. The boys are scared and we’re getting the run around. “Check in with such-and-such. You’ll be put on stand-by,” etc. Any seasoned travelers out there KNOW about the airport runaround.

So now, we’re on standby and incredibly frustrated. After all, this wasn’t our fault. It’s the airlines’ fault and they aren’t really bending over backwards to help us. In fact, we’re ignored most of the time. And this just makes my blood boil. Every time a flight takes off for Tampa, we’re in the terminal crossing our fingers that our names will be called.

The day wears on and the number of flights begins to dwindle. Our chances of getting to Tampa that day are looking grim.

It’s time for the LAST flight to Tampa to leave for that day and we’re on pins and needles. We’re tired from running from terminal to terminal and nervous about being trapped in the Dallas airport our entire vacation. The boys are getting tired (they are only 11 and 9 when this happened), and still, no one will help us.

They call our name.

But they only have two seats available.

We’d have to split up.

GD goes berserk and starts to do the big boy cry (you know, tears in his eyes, trembling lower lip but he’s trying hard to keep it together because you know, it’s not COOL for boys to cry). We refuse and tell them there is no way we’re splitting up.

They give the two seats to some other people on stand by.

That’s it. No more flights to Tampa that day. We’re shell-shocked and numb. What do we do now? We have two small boys who are bone-tired and they are telling us that it will be mid-morning before the next flight leaves tomorrow and then there’s STILL no guarantee we’ll get on that plane.

The husband snaps. He DEMANDS that someone help us, after all, it’s their fault we’re in this situation to begin with. The airline directs us to their ticket counter and the airline finds us a hotel to stay the night in (they pay for it, of course). In addition, our not being assured a seat on the next day’s flight is not good enough, we’re on vacation after all and we’ve already wasted one day of our vacation, so the hubs puts up such a fuss that the airline books us four seats on ANOTHER airline’s flight.

Good enough. We now had secure passage to Tampa.

We arrived at the hotel. Since we didn’t have any change of clothes (no toothbrushes or any health and beauty aids), we bought the bare essentials at the hotel and slept in our underwear. We arrived at the airport the next day in rumpled clothes and looking pretty rough, but we didn’t care. We were on our way to Tampa.

Our flight, on another airline, took off without a hitch and we arrived in Florida. We had a GREAT vacation and we laugh about that trip to this day. So though at the time, it was irritating and a bit scary to be stranded, we definitely walked away with a family story that will likely be passed onto our grandchildren. 🙂

I have purposefully kept the airline’s name out of this story. Can you guess which one it was?


Here’s another writing prompt idea:
Fiction Friday
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s a writing exercise you can use any way you wish – everyone is welcome to participate.

Monday Morning Meme

Monday Morning Meme – July 7th

All you have to do is answer the questions below either in the comment section, or on your blog. And elaborate! Make these questions show your unique and special personalities. This meme entry will post at 12:01 every Monday morning and will be the first postentry listed on WFK all day Monday morning. (This is an all-day Monday meme, so please, play all day!)

Monday Morning Meme at

July 7th Questions:

1. What is your blog about? How long have you been blogging? Why did you begin blogging? Is it the same reason that you continue to blog today? How has your blog changed over the time you’ve had it? In six words, sum up your blog.

2. When you go for a haircut, do you do something drastic? Or are you more of a ‘just a trim’ sort of person? Do you color your hair? If so, how often? Tell us about your best, and worst, hairstyle. What sort of hairsyle do you think looks good on you now?

3. Tell us about your 4th of July celebration. Show us some pictures (if you have them). What did your family do? Did you go and see a big fireworks display? Or did you stay home and have a (semi) quiet family fireworks celebration? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), how patriotic would you say you are? Do you routinely talk about our country’s issues within your family unit? Do you and your significant other see eye-to-eye on political issues? International friends: tell us how you celebrate your country’s birthday/new year/significant annual event.

4. If you only had enough time each day to read one section of the newspaper, which section would you read? Why this particular section?

Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Missing Youth

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was originally published May 2, 2007


Missing Youth

Clara glanced at her watch and frowned. It was nearly time to get back but she just couldn’t force herself to move. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the children were having so much fun playing and chasing each other in the park.

She sighed. She missed having little ones under foot. She missed her grandchildren. She missed her family. Lifting a hand, she shielded her eyes from the afternoon glare. The man on her left shifted a bit and caused the park bench to groan in protest.

Clara looked over at her companion; Ben was asleep and snoring softly. She shook her head in disgust and turned her attention back to the children. How could he sleep on a day like this? There was so much activity, so much life, to appreciate and soak in before going back. There would be plenty of time to sleep, later.

A black and white checked ball bounced off her foot momentarily startling her. A little boy, not more than five, walked shyly toward her. She offered an encouraging smile, careful not to show her teeth; she didn’t want to scare the boy.

“ello,” she croaked in a throaty voice.

The boy hesitated. His eyes darted back and forth between the ball and his friends, he was clearly debating on whether it was worth confronting her to retrieve the ball or simply run back to his friends and forget about the toy.

Clara bent slowly from the waist and tried to pick up the ball, but her bones protested loudly and her muscles locked and refused to stretch. She sighed loudly and lifted one bony shoulder into a shrug. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But I can’t pick it up. Can I kick it to you?” The croak had worked itself out of her voice and the sound came out soothing and friendly. She was pleased at the change and smiled again; this time, the smile reached her eyes.

The boy visibly relaxed at her smile and nodded eagerly. He ran back several paces and Clara laughed softly. “No my child. I can’t kick it that far. You’ll have to come a little closer.”

Ben suddenly twitched next to her and emitted an abrupt snore. The boy jumped and Clara laughed again. “Don’t mind him. He’s just dreaming.” She blinked to bring the ball into focus. “Okay, ready now?”

The boy’s face stretched into a wide grin and he clapped his hands to signal he was ready. Clara summoned what little strength she had, brought her foot back and kicked.

Only she missed and the ball remained near her feet. She glanced up at the boy. The boy stared back at her. Suddenly, they both erupted into giggles. “I’m sorry,” Clara struggled to say past her amusement. “I guess I’m out of practice.”

The boy approached her and placed a small hand on her bare arm. His smile was beatific and his eyes sparkled with life and innocence. “S’ok,” his voice tinkled out. “My mom’s not a very good kicker, either.” He gave her arm little reassuring pats before picking up the ball.

A lump formed in Clara’s throat and she felt an overwhelming sadness surround her heart. She missed her grandchildren. Dear God, she missed them.

A soft rumble eased its way past the sounds of the park and caught the boy’s attention. Clara nodded off into the distance. “It sounds like rain’s coming.”

The boy nodded in agreement. “Yeah. My dad said it was gonna rain today.”

“Your dad is a smart man.” Clara said.

“Yeah,” the boy responded. “’Cept when it comes to fixing things. Mom says he’s not a very good fixer.” He grinned. Clara’s heart jumped at his expression and she noted, for the first time, one of his front teeth was missing.

“Mark!” A voice called toward them.

“Oops. That’s me. I gotta go.” Mark patted her arm again. “Thanks for trying to kick the ball.”

Clara’s eyes began to fill with tears at the boy’s kindness. Her throat closed up and she found she couldn’t speak. She simply nodded and smiled at him in return.

She watched Mark run off, and with each stride of his chubby legs, her smile dissipated until finally, it disappeared altogether.

“Mrs. Stevens?” A deep male voice sounded next to her right ear, a large hand rested on her shoulder. “Are you ready to go?”

“But,” she glanced at the thin gold watch on her wrist. “It’s not time yet.”

“There’s a storm coming, we should go. Are you ready?”

She swallowed a sigh and sadly nodded her agreement.

Prompt Fiction

Fiction: I Had a Problem

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was originally published March 23, 2007

These prompt fiction pieces were all written in a hurry and haven’t been edited (much). I’m using these prompts to free / speed write – just some warm-up exercises.

You can find a ton of writing prompts at Write Anything. Click over today and write YOUR version!

Writing Prompt:

You’re behind a car in traffic when you notice part of a trash bag sticking out from the closed trunk. What’s in the bag?


I couldn’t help it. I had a problem. I knew it, my husband knew it, my friends knew it, hell even my neighbors knew it.

I worried the inside of my cheek and continued to check the traffic in my rearview mirror. I kept driving. I had no idea where I was going, but I couldn’t stop. Not now. I had pushed the envelope too far this time. I had lied so many times in the past I had forgotten the truth even existed.

I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. It was painful and yet strangely comforting. I was alive! Finally, thank God, I was alive.

I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew there would be repercussions. But I simply couldn’t stop. I had an impulse, a need to do this. It was strong. It pushed me. It was like being stuck in the middle of a parade. The people kept pushing against me; I tried to fight my way through the masses, but somehow, they always won and I ended up being twirled around and pushed ahead of them.

I finally stopped fighting them. What was the use? This was who I was. This was the only thing that kept me breathing, kept me functioning from day to day, kept me from tearing my hair out night after night and kept the demons from clawing my insides to bloody ribbons.

I pulled off the highway and onto the exit ramp. This section of town was dark, mysterious and dangerous. It was the perfect place to dump the contents of the trash bag in the trunk of my car.

I continued to check my rearview mirror. I didn’t think I was being followed, but I couldn’t take the chance. I drove around several blocks, taking side streets and weaving in and out of back alleys.

I released a small sigh of relief when I was finally convinced no one was tailing me. I lifted a shaky hand and removed a fine sheen of perspiration from my brow. The hard part was over. Now it was time to dump the contents.

I couldn’t help but smile at myself in the mirror. This was my favorite part.

I pulled up to the small security building outside the Greenback Storage Facility.

“Hey Ms. Winter. How’s you doin’ tonight?” The large, burly black man smiled at me from within his cubicle. His teeth glowed brightly in the dim light.

“Hi Max,” I replied in what I hope was a normal voice. I sounded breathless, guilty. I cleared my throat and smiled. “Slow night?” I could feel my heartbeat decrease with each heavy thud. It had a tendency to do that whenever I found myself in dire straits.

Max chuckled and pressed the button that opened the security gate. “The only people out are the punks who’s got something to hide,” he said.

I blinked instinctively as if he had taken a swing at me. I swallowed hard and recovered quickly. “Really. Well, then I better not look too guilty, eh?”

The breath caught in my throat as I waited for his reaction. I nonchalantly placed my hand over my purse just in case he asked any more nosey questions.

“Yeah, right Ms. Winter.” He grinned and waved me on through the gate.

I relaxed my death grip on the steering wheel and drove into the facility. I forced myself to drive slowly though what I really wanted to do was tear around the storage buildings on two wheels.

I finally parked in front of door number 414. I slipped out of the car and made a show of stretching my legs. It hadn’t really been that long of a drive, only 45 minutes, but I knew Max was probably watching me on the security monitor. I fished the storage keys out of my purse and walked to the trunk. I jabbed the key into the lock with perhaps more force than was necessary.

I broke a nail and swore softly under my breath.

I popped the trunk and grabbed the heavy black trash bag. A very distinctive and not altogether unpleasant smell wafted up my nose. I took deep breaths and using every ounce of strength I had, I hauled the bag out of the trunk. Using my elbow, I snapped it shut.

I stumbled a few times but was careful to keep my walk regular and steady. I wanted to run as fast as I could to the shed, but I didn’t want to arouse Max’s suspicions. When I reached the door, I unceremoniously dropped the bag at my feet and unlocked the door. I switched on the light and keeping the door open with my rear end, I dragged the bag into the building. It was only after I shut the door and caught my breath did I relax.

I stuffed the fake ID and credit card into the mail pouch next to the door. I wouldn’t need those again for a few weeks.

I turned and feasted my eyes on the mound in the corner. I could feel myself salivating with anticipation. I glanced at my watch. It was 4:15. I had just under an hour to “play.”

A giggle gurgled up inside my throat and I allowed it to surface. The sound reverberated off the walls and sounded scratchy and … evil.

I frowned and dragged the bag over to the mound. I was determined not to let anything spoil the moment, for these indeed were the happiest moments of my life, the trips to my storage container.

I grabbed a corner of the bag and tugged. The contents began to spill out and mix with the mound. The colors were spectacular: blue, red, pink, yellow, green, black, and white.

I rubbed my hands together and kicked off my boots. I began to try on the various pairs of shoes I had just emptied from the bag. I admired myself in the full-length mirror tacked to the far wall.

I sighed happily at my reflection.

“Now THIS is what life is all about,” I said to my flushed, animated face.