Choices: Chapter 9

old hand writing for journal

Chapter IX
A New Leaf
1836

I left Tennessee toward the middle of February, halfway thinking about following my old friend Crockett to Texas to see what was happening there. The Colonel had lost his appetite for Washington politics, according to a man who came into the shop one day saying he had read about it in a copy of the Alabama Watchman.  I suspect Davy simply tired of having his honor trampled by the likes of Andrew Jackson, and opted for more worthy pursuits. For whatever reason, most likely adventure, he went to Texas. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 9

Choices: Chapter 8

old hand writing for journal

Chapter VIII
Loose Ends
August, 1822

Upon my return, I noticed something peculiar in CB’s behavior.  He seemed preoccupied, on edge, not at all himself.  At first I thought it had to do with me personally, something I had done, or said. It nagged at me that he could be holding me accountable for the death of Louis, finding himself somehow caught in the middle, between the Friedel loss and my part in it. He had become close with the Friedel family, visiting their farm often, tending a full blown romance with Isabel.  Or, I surmised, perhaps he was simply ill at ease with me, not knowing how to address my loss.  He had expected me to return with my wife and baby, my family. It could be that my bereavement was more than he was sophisticated enough to process, not as acclimated in the white man’s ways as I had thought. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 8

The Last Ovalian

ovalianEsta, old and dying, stood at the gate.  She had lived from the beginning to the end.  She had come from the place of perpetual bliss to this planet of death, but she had not come freely.  She sank to the ground, her wizened old fingers clutching the dirt, as she summoned the great wings of thought. Come, take me back to Ova, she willed.   As her head fell to rest upon the brown parchment remains of the garden’s dying trees, Esta remembered.  Ova was gone. Continue reading The Last Ovalian

Eve in Bloom

LifeWay back there in birthing bed
alone again she’d weep.
Year after year, new flesh, new bone,
pushed out like temporal teeth.
Ripped from its sockets by the roots,
life gasped and screamed for air,
then quieted down in perfect peace
to rich maternal fare.

Grandmother soil, warm and fertile,
the perfect garden spot.
She was Eve in efflorescence:
Black-eyed Susans, Blazing Stars,
Snow-drops, Spring Beauties,

Ragweed and Clover.
She was Eden, perennially pregnant.

Wildflowers, we speckle the landscape,
earth’s laughter, we nourish and flavor the land.
Spawned one by one in darkened rooms,
loosed as fledglings from cradling hands:
farmers, herders,
builders, teachers,
healers.
Grandchildren,
we explore, we discover,
we dance, we sing,
we think.

Anita Stubbs

LOCKS

old women on porchShe sat, reflected.
Locks of silver trembled in fingers reluctant,
Hesitant.
The brush stroked indulgently,
Sensually, unrestrained,
One hundred times.

She sat, reflected.
Strands of silver shimmered in attraction,
In friction.
Crowning highlights bristled in ritual.
Hair, alive and crackling, flew,
Unrestricted.

She arose, retreated,
Locks of silver tightly braided, pinned down,
Properly.
Hair, alive and crackling,
Decently subdued,
And bound.
Anita Stubbs

 

 

Verisimilitude: Sometimes a Four-Letter Word

creative-writingI know verisimilitude is a long word but it is the perfect word for what it means. Sometimes one word, and none other, will do. I came across the word, verisimilitude, for the very first time in a creative writing class. It had been scribbled in the margin of one of my short stories by the professor. “Good verisimilitude,” she had said. It happened to be a short story set during the Depression, with a lot of dialogue. The characters spoke in good ol’ rural East Texas vernacular.

Now, I know that lingo very well, in all its shades and off-colors. I was taught early on to write what I know, and apparently, the teaching stuck, for the particular jargon common to this area surfaces often in my writing. The East Texas culture seems to dominate the gene pool from which most of my bucolic (I have always wanted to use that word!) characters evolve. I know that a fictitious person, of any particular ethnicity, using uncharacteristic words, speech patterns, or body language, would finish me off before I even get started, discrediting me completely as a writer of true-to-life fiction.

I have to admit, the nature of the language and the acts of some of my characters, which is most definitely the case in my novel, The Velvet Bridge, often conflict with my own inhibitions. However, verisimilitude in my work must prevail. Any reflection of real life must portray events as vividly and believably as if the reader was actually witnessing them. Whether or not the reader approves of the reality being witnessed, or of the language being spoken, is a moot point. However, I have been subjected to some criticism, for the use of a few “bad” words, which sometimes a character insists upon using. I suspect this is a common problem among writers, one with which we must come to terms in our own way.

It has been said you cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and that is so true. Some things just cannot be prettied up and some characters absolutely refuse to speak and behave politely! The character says what she says, and he does what he does, pure and simple. As a character-driven writer, dedicated to verisimilitude by creating honest and mature fiction—work that is believable and true to itself—I will never censor my characters in order to appease my own hang-ups, or the folks back home.

Mother of The Groom

Mother of the groomJo had planned to spend the weekend in Dallas with friends, until Sean walked into the house early that Saturday morning completely unexpected. The guest he brought with him set off alarm signals, activating motherly instincts Jo had never experienced. Continue reading Mother of The Groom

April’s Fool?

aprils foolJackson, the superstar of Gayle’s hometown, was everyone’s James Dean, Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbison, rolled into one. He drove a ‘57 Chevy painted a shade of plum mist purple the locals had never seen in real time. He introduced drag racing, glamorized lethargy, and intrigued everyone with stories about his friendship with Elvis’ bodyguard. He excited them all, bringing a kind of agitated disturbance slightly out of sync and somewhat intimidating. A distraction from the Dairy Queen routine of their small town existence, he aroused suspicion in all the parents.

Jackson went out to West Texas in May of ‘61 with a seismograph crew that had come through town. He returned in the middle of August, much sooner than anyone expected. His unannounced homecoming, typical Jackson theatrics, did not surprise Gayle, his girlfriend’s sister. No, his unexpected return did not surprise anyone, but the news that he had come back married stunned them all. Continue reading April’s Fool?