Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Six

Wil left the table after a requisite number of tuna casserole bites, hungry and self-pitying. The dark, narrow hallway seemed even more constricting; the dim bathroom bulb even dimmer; the tasteless toothpaste more tasteful for the lingering tuna remains. “Ugh!” she spat, swirled, spat again. She scowled a deeper expression at the girl in the glass, but her reflection matched and even exceeded her gloom.

A distinct *Ku-huh* *Kuh-huh* from the kitchen paused the glaring session. Wil and her shadow listened, a bridge of concern across their united brow, as Cynthia had her coughing session. “They’re happening much more,” Wil and Mirror-Wil whispered. They frowned and their deep, dark eyes spoke helplessness.

Wil exited the bathroom. Parent shadows crossed the hall on their way to the couch and sounds of scrambling soon led to the ever-present breathing machine. Wil stood, caught by fear, till her mother’s deep-throat coughs were tamed by the nebulizer’s magic.

She heard another sound: a chair scraped from the table and careless steps to the sink. Knowing that meant the immediate appearance of Jakob, she squeaked and scampered to the safety of her room and shut the door. After locking the knob, she threw herself atop the messy bed. Clothes, blankets, homework, and an open book or two caught her flying form and held her in their comforting familiarity. “There, there,” her favorite pullover soothed. “We understand,” the nearest novel assured her.

Wil hiccuped a few times but managed not to soil her bedthings with tears. She kicked a shoe free and pulled the second from a bent-leg position. Taking careful aim, tongue in teeth, eyes squinted tight; she threw the sneaker at her push-button wall switch. With a *clunk* the light went off. The shoe dropped.

Woolykind Wil, most respected member of the flying squirrel chapter of The Treetop Dwellers, sniffed and snuffled round her nest. She felt each treasured material with pride, moving things this way and that to arrange them just-so.

It had been a busy day in the forest and Wooly felt tired. She’d gathered food for her group. They’d been a tad ungrateful, to be sure, but she’d done her best. After all, flying was more her forte than food collection ever was.

Burrowing into the most comfortable heap of warm leaves, twigs, and discarded scraps around her; she sighed. Tomorrow would be better. Maybe there’d even be acorns. She fell asleep dreaming of better things.

 

Continued from Ninety-Five.
Keep reading to Ninety-Seven.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist

My neighbor is a hair stylist. Last year or the one before, I set an appointment with her and got ready for it. I put in contact lenses, dressed in actual clothes, and applied my usual round of makeup.

After she worked her magic and I admired the results in the mirror, she said, “This is the time you go home, put on your makeup, and take a selfie.”

I didn’t tell her that was about as made-up as I got.

I also didn’t tell her that I don’t take selfies.

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Granted, I have negative thoughts and poor self-esteem and little support or encouragement from people I know in real life. Those things may contribute to the anti-selfie-thing. Mostly, I tell myself, I avoid preening and self-photography because it’s selfish, shallow, and silly.

Whether anyone agrees with me or no, we’ve probably all noticed that one cannot go through life without any pictures being taken. If the old superstitions regarding photography are correct; my local gym, Costco, and the DMV all stole a piece of my soul. But when I consider voluntarily sharing my face all over the place like a peacock, I instead turn into a turtle.

The same is true of beauty tips and tricks, makeup, spa treatments, Botox, tummy tucks, hair removals, and other alterations women make to screw up enhance their natural beauty.

To me: it’s weird, verging on wrong.

Recently on TwoFacebook, one of my neighbors invited everyone to a Botox Party. We-e-e-ell -it was a cheaper version of the same thing. As I read people’s comments I came to realize the event was like Tupperware Parties of old, except women showed up to inject themselves and not to preserve leftovers. (In a way, they are still preserving leftovers.)

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I realize I may have a less-desperate perspective because I am younger. I haven’t started coloring my hair yet, though my boys seem determined to hasten that greying process.

Yet as I do age, I notice signs of the process that are less attractive. My body weight has shifted. I have eye lines at the corners. My lips, never much darker than my pale skin to begin with, have disappeared and require coloring if I want someone to find them.

I’d postulate that I may embrace more of these treatments as I age, yet also know I will always feel a slight shudder at the prospect. I really and truly wish we could all stop with so much makeup and injections. I wish we could all age gracefully and all be okay with that.

Instead I find much older women with blonde hair, fake eyelashes, and skin that resembles a folded potato. How many times did that woman go tanning? Nip a fat layer? Inject her face? Kill her roots with that color?

Ugh.

Where do you stand? Do you like women who are wearing so much makeup they used a trowel to apply it? Are you in favor of all this ‘mainstream’ plastic surgery these days? Is beauty only skin deep and is this how we unearth it?

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—————

They may not be selfie-worth, but here’s what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, February 27: Wrote “The Power of the Word,” a short dive into wordcrafting and wordplay.
Thursday, February 28: “The Cure for Depression: Get Up and MOVE,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, March 1: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Furious Pockets!
Saturday, March 2: Announced the 16th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Something about stories with a moral. PLEASE ENTER!
Plus, I posted a picture of my totally-not-dated St. Patrick’s Day t-shirt. For those hecklers, that is my perhaps my fourth selfie ever taken.
Sunday
, March 3: “Right Quite Not Something’s,” my poem entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week. Da Vinci shook hands with Yoda while readers eyes’ crossed.
Monday, March 4: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Four.”
Tuesday, March 5:  An inspirational quote by Brian Tracy.
Wednesday, March 6: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote about supporting mothers, how boys smell, and why quiet time is suspicious time.

That’s not all! I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “Screaming Kids? I’ve Got a Music Playlist for That.” It’s very helpful. Trust me.

 

Photo Credit:
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Photo by yunona uritsky on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Right Quite Not Something’s

.guru techno a

,you find ,else Or

.computer laptop your upon

files data your save to look Please

.intruders face to look please

;that only than more far Recall

.tears and scolds my recall

,door your at beckon strangers and

,clear not road’s the whene’er

:well me hear please ,child lov’ly My

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-lurks failure a where or when

know never may you ,For

;one dearest my life your Backup◀◀

 

.Ranch Carrot for versed and ,rhymed ,mirrored ,Dreamed

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Take Me as I Am

Take me as I am

I am
feelings-
They run deep. and strong. and personal.

I am
woman-
I have hormones. and instincts. and issues.

I am
smart-
I love words. a clever joke. or a math puzzle.

I am
average-looking-
With small eyes. a big nose. a few imperfect teeth.

I am
human-
I make mistakes. have flaws. feel embarrassing moments.

I am
capable-
I am! I am! I am!

I am me, and am not another

Take me as I am

And stop apologizing.

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Another Set of Limericks

There once was a woman, not spry
Who couldn’t find clothes in her size.
“These ‘one size fits all’
Could not fit a doll!”
So she sat in the food court with fries.

Why is it when women buy clothes,
They travel in pairs or in droves?
Through fitting room walls
I hear their trite calls
And eavesdrop on mirr’r-mod’ling shows.

A flat-footed human named Sue
Could never find just the right shoe.
The options were varied;
The shopper was harried.
Bewildered, she opted for nude.

Strange Room, Strange Bed

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I don’t know what was up with the world this morning.

I was enjoying one of my favorite dreams: the one where I’m all alone on an island and my dishes and laundry disappear when dirty, and magically reappear all clean.

Instead of a blue-sky island dissolving to the usual wake-up call of pattering feet and yelling children, however, a far-off rooster’s crow drew me back. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes. A low, dark ceiling loomed above me, supporting a broken, swinging fan. Where did that come from? I wondered. I’d never owned a fan in my life, nevermind attaching one to my ceiling.

In my usual calm fashion, I sat up and looked around the room like a panicked rabbit. This isn’t my room. This isn’t my bed.

A shadowy object in the corner was the only other piece of furniture besides the strange bed beneath me. Gingerly, I slid off the dark covers and walked a barefoot tread across a dusty wood floor to investigate.

It was a vanity. I think. Given that ceiling fans were considered a luxury, I’d certainly never seen a vanity in person. The low desklike part, spindly stool, and oblong mirror fit some mental idea from my subconscious of its identity.

After such profound musings, I did the logical thing and sat before it. I glanced in the mirror, and inadvertently proved the stool to be more sound than it first appeared.

It fell to the floor as I rapidly fell off of it, causing echoing clatters of wood-on-wood in the tiny room. I warily approached the mirror again. It reflected the exact shock I felt, but the similarities ended there. Someone else’s disjointed, enlarged nose and blood-encrusted lips stared back at me from widened eyes -widened, bruise-circled eyes. Some other girl’s bumpy, hair-shorn head felt suddenly cold; then had the hand I raised caress it to be certain of its authenticity.

Just as I began to hope this new person was also prone to fainting, I heard the sound of carefree singing from somewhere beyond the wall I faced. Besides the off-key tune, I realized a regular, even tread of footsteps. Each noise seemed associated with the other and both drew nearer by the second.

Assuming nothing worse than a tone-deaf singer lay beneath the bed, I scurried over to it and quickly scampered into the clouds of dust and dirt it hid under its mattress. None too soon: a creaking sound and spreading triangle of light announced The Singer’s entry. Fortunately, he/she/it had stopped his/her/its identifying noise.

Right when I realized the obviousness of my hiding place, a weight pushed down on the bed and a large, green, ferocious, upside-down face leered directly in front of my view. Just before I released the loudest scream this side of Kentucky, the monster asked, “What are you doing under there?”

Reflecting on the Future

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My grandparents had a mirror in their bathroom, opposite another mirror on parallel walls. I could see myself in a hundred rooms in a hundred rooms.

Sometimes I walk where memory shadows still linger: a former neighborhood sidewalk, a street route I drove when I first earned my driver’s license, that base of a tree where I sat with my love in that park.

I see me in the past and even remember the thoughts and feelings of those moments. I think how I will walk there again in the future, and wonder what I will feel then.

 

unsplash-logoAlessio Lin