Spot 026: A Long Time Coming


Dreadfully Speaking
by Bill Lapham

I spent my whole life trying to avoid this one last decision. I ate healthy food, avoided the carcinogens I knew about, wore my seatbelt before “Click it or Ticket,” ran the equivalent of once around the planet at the equator, got married, raised kids, had some friends, yada yada yada. I wasn’t a perfect health nut though. I smoked cigarettes from time to time, but always gave them up. I drank yours and my share of booze over the years, but gave that up, too. Still, in the end, the end has come.
I made all those life and death choices over the years, daily choosing this healthy alternative over that unhealthy one. That’s okay, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all decide, all the time, everyday, even if we decide to postpone the decision, again.
But today I got the diagnosis, and it ain’t good, brothers and sisters. It ain’t good at all. Not that I’m going to die, at least not right away. No, first, the medical community rip-off artists want their cut. They want to see how long I can hold out. Ply me with talk about ‘courage’ and shit. Well, I know about courage, folks. I’ve seen courage; and cowardice, too. And this decision isn’t about either.
This is about how I want to spend the rest of my ‘nasty, brutish and short’ life. Because looking back from the abyss of eternity, the span of a human lifetime will look dreadfully, pitifully, brief.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



An Early Lesson, Not Fully Heeded
by Sandra Davies

White shoes, low down in the window, behind yellow cellophane to protect from midday sun shining down into Hertford’s narrow Fore Street. Low heels, which I needed because I was embarrassingly tall. Only twenty-two shillings and sixpence, which, at half a crown a week pocket money, meant nine weeks’ saving, without buying anything else at all. No good asking my parents, they would disapprove.
And so I saved, and went back every week to check that they were still there.
And eventually I bought them, aware but not admitting to myself that by then the ones to have were much more pointed, had narrower, higher heels and were shiny leather and not some sort of imitation suede. And cost more money than I was prepared to save for any longer.
And so I wore them, at the dance in the Widford village hall, a mile up the road from where I lived.
And no I don’t remember why I left there early and alone, but I still remember crying on the way home and am far from sure it was just from the pain from my now-bleeding feet.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



Laid in Her Arms
by Amy Hale Auker

She’d envisioned it as a celebration… warm, sparkling, with raised glasses, and compliments, and oohs and aahs, and the makings of an event, perhaps a speech or two, her thanking everyone for their support.
But the actual moment reminded her of the birth of her son which had not gone down as she had envisioned. There had been no slick wet baby recently pushed from the cooperative womb laid still gooey in his tired, but happy, mother’s arms with father looking on, a full breast waiting for a hungry and alert mouth.
No, he’d been several hours old before she got to hold him, her eyes swollen shut from the meds and unsuccessful pushing. She’d struggled out from under the anesthesia, and she wished she’d read the chapter on c-section in the birth books, but she hadn’t entertained that possibility. Her husband had already gone off to sleep for awhile, and the baby was as groggy as she was.
Now that baby, and the others, were grown, busy with their own lives, and the ink was more than dry on the divorce. Her first book was stacked in boxes left by the UPS man. And she had walking pneumonia, though the diagnosis was three days away. She slit the tape with her knife and pulled a book from beneath the invoice.
The still bitey spring wind blew. The book was wrapped in plastic. No party, no loving man at her side, no editor making nice noises, no toasts. Just wheezing.

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.



Pilgrim’s Progress
by Paul de Denus

Looking up from his book, the old man peeps, “I hate to say this, but I did mention it’d be a waste.” His glasses teeter on the precipice of his nose, hand waving. A glacier of ice cracks and shifts in the amber glass. I hate him for saying anything but oh… I’d wanted this thing bad. All my friends own one. Shit, everyone does.

“The dark ages are over,” I shot back. “Time to catch up with today Pop. That’s called progress, in case you didn’t know.”

“Yeah, I read that somewhere,” he says, pushing back into the recliner, disappearing back into a tattered book.

The old man’s stuck behind the curve. The cell phone he carries around is an embarrassment, pure old school technology. “I call people on it and they call me back,” he says. “Works perfectly… the way it’s supposed to. Don’t need no fancy contraption to simply communicate.”

Okay, he may have a point but I sure as hell won’t give him the satisfaction of it. This here is supposed to make things easier but I’m having doubts. It doesn’t feature any bells and whistles and the keyboard is a little bitch. Maybe my fingers are too big. Maybe I’m too impatient. Or maybe it’s just a piece of crap. I don’t know how many times I’ve toggled the ‘previous page’ button. Even then I’m unable to find the page I want to reference.

In the other room, the old man laughs at his book and I want to scream.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



That Open Avenue
by Michael D. Brown

“Helps keep out the riff-raff,” she said, but I was too distracted by the lateness of the afternoon to remark how elitist she sounded. These days it darkens around five-thirty, and I have a distaste for the indications concerning work done or yet to be done. My nights are sacred. Soon I would be free to walk away from unpleasantness, but not yet. Her sister was a onetime aberration. Her brother is another story.
“Christ, it pains me to think we won’t reach our goal by the weekend,” I said, more in the way of a rejoinder than I had planned. I wanted her to think I paid little mind to her sarcasm.
“Help me with this, won’t you?” She was attempting to hold the soft paper poster against the wind while applying paste to the wall of outdated announcements.
Last concert I danced with twelve different women, my apostles I called them, though half of them did not listen to anything I said. Julie was one who did. “My mother told me she wished I was more like my brother,” I had told her.
“By which she meant…”
“I don’t really know.”
“I think you do,” she said.
Now, I observed that open avenue down which a stiff breeze was moving and traffic was not, and recalled I would be attending the concert with Doubting Thomas. “I guess it was just a long time coming.” This time, she appeared not to hear me as she slapped on more paste.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



There are no illustrations for Spot 026. Please go back and have a look at those in Spot 025.



4 Comments to “Spot 026: A Long Time Coming”

  1. If ever there was a selection for everyone this is it – Bill adresses what comes to us all, in a manner which we know too well, and Amy’s piece touches every woman – babies and books and disappointment. The stubbornness and youth in PAul’s piece likewise – we’ve all been there. Only Michael’s piece is, for me, too full of a complexity of depth that I cannot, quite, fathom but which is richer for it.
    And the 250 word limit is, I realise, perfect.

  2. I am laughing at Sandra’s title because it implies that she still buys the wrong shoes, and I have two pairs of gorgeous high heels in my closet that make me blister and limp after a few hours in them.
    Likewise I smiled at Paul’s piece because I am the proud owner of a do-nothing cell phone that only sends and receives phone calls. And, and, I am protective and curmudgeonly about it.
    Amy made me wish I were wealthy and could jump on the next plane to Arizona with a bottle of her fave, Black Velvet, and celebrate the birth of her book with her. The writing is wonderful and she made me go, “awwww” at the end.
    I was reading Bill’s piece expecting to find out a terrible diagnosis only to end up smiling at “my share and yours of booze” and wondering exactly how the speaker was going to end his days. In this case, 250 words were not enough.
    Michael, you hit me upside the head with the revelation about the mother. Julie’s rejoinder, “I think you do,” and yours, “It’s been a long time coming,” did not assuage my hurt. My father suffered from that kind of critical attitude all his life and finally, when I was old enough to swat away words, I confronted my grandmother. She said, “What are you talking about? I would never say that.” The bitches are everywhere, I swear.
    Good work, y’all. Enjoyed these.

  3. bill – you always make me look at things in a different light. so much passion in that one!
    sandra – love the little memory – the one in which we all know the sacrifice of looking good, but paying for it later!
    amy – the title really went so well and this tugged at my heartstrings. the comparison brilliant, but hate that it happened that way.
    paul – progress is one of those things, isn’t it? love this. have this discussion with my elderly relatives all the time and often wonder which of us is smarter!
    michael – i think you do – great line and so accurate of how we often know but don’t want to admit. love the apostles, too!

  4. Reading these is like ordering and savoring every appetizer on a restaurant’s menu.

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