Saturday, July 11, 2009

Although I didn't write it until November, this story is about being out and about on a rainy August afternoon. For about 5 minutes this morning, as I thought about all the unsettled-ness of my life lately, I changed my mind about knowing what's up ahead and around the corner of life's highway. But, I've decided I still like surprises.

I'm linking this story to Jo's Stories in My Pocket over at
Mylestones. You should go visit.


Reflections at an Intersection


The light changed from green to yellow as she approached the intersection. If it had been a bright, sunny day, she might have tried to “squeeze the lemon,” her daughter’s way of saying, “Give it some gas and hurry on through before the yellow light turns red!” But it wasn’t a sunny day. Rain was spilling steadily down from a fuzzy gray sky that seemed to sag with the weight of all the water it held. She adjusted the windshield wipers from Intermittent to All-the-Way-On, and, instead of squeezing that lemon, she pressed gently down on the brake pedal and came to a soft, easy stop just as the light changed to red.

She loved weather like this. The pavement was as black and shiny as the brand new, patent leather Mary-Janes she‘d worn every Easter when she was a little girl (except for that one year when, for some unknown reason, she‘d worn white.) The shimmery reflections of the red and white car lights on the wet street sent a little shiver of Christmas spirit right through to her soul, even though it was a warm September day. She had turned the radio off and the patter of the rain on the roof of her car had muted all of the normal busy-day traffic sounds. She felt secluded, happily cocooned in her own little world with just her thoughts to keep her company.

As she sat there enjoying the wait for the green light, it occurred to her that whether she turned left or right or continued straight ahead, she’d still get home, her favorite place in all the world, in about 20 minutes. And, no matter which direction she chose to go, there would be something to see along the way that would make her smile. Of course, no matter which direction she chose to go, there would the possibility that something would annoy her and make her scowl a bit, too.

If she turned left, she could cross the little creek that ran through town. Always lovely, it was especially pretty in the rain. After making the turn, she’d drive straight for about a mile, at which point the road would curve and she would cross a kind-of-bridge. The houses that lined most of the street would fall from view, making her almost forget that this was a residential area and not a country road. On both sides of the bridge, she’d see lush green ferns and willows and that plant with the pretty white flowers; the one she didn’t know the name of. (Granddaddy would have known what it was.) She would see trees standing straight and tall in the dark water, with kudzu and Spanish moss wrapped around the trunks and hanging from the branches. Maybe, if she was lucky, she’d see an ibis or a crane. The surface of the water, more graphite-gray than black, would be sprinkled with thousands of little pewter-colored rain dots. But - and there was always a but - that mile before you got to the creek had a reputation for being a speed trap; a well-deserved reputation that she could personally vouch for. And, once you crossed the creek, the country road once again became a city street lined with non-descript, (some down-right ugly,) houses and businesses.

If she turned right, she could ride by her favorite house in town, the little cottage with the stained glass windows hanging on the porch. A picket fence enclosed an overgrown garden filled with late-blooming flowers, birdhouses and quirky yard art. The owner was in the process of painting, so the house was half pink and half green. And had been for years. Though they had never met, she was sure that the woman who lived there - and she just knew it was a woman - had embraced her inner Bohemianess just as she had, and must be quite a wonderful person. The thing was, to get there she’d have to go through that goofy intersection, where she’d have to cross a busy street at an odd angle, zigging to the right, then zagging quickly to the left. You had to be very careful there because, when the light turned green, drivers unfamiliar with the area, thinking there was no opposing traffic, would turn left smack dab in front of you making you call them and their mamas ugly names.

Straight ahead, the road was lined on each side with massive oak trees whose branches met overhead and formed a lacy green tunnel. Traveling through it, she’d pass some of the town’s oldest houses; houses that were built when this area was still considered “way out in the country.” On her left, she’d see the new built-to-look-like-an-old-farmhouse house with the oh, so cool tin roof. A little further up on the right, would be the pretty white house and it’s wrought iron trellis that was all but hidden beneath a big yellow-flowering vine. What would be her most favorite thing to see, though, was the little garden that had been planted on land bequeathed to the town by the Shack Lady. For a long, long time, and to the consternation of her affluent neighbors, an old woman had lived in a broken-down, not very pretty little house on a much desired, very valuable piece of real estate. After her death, it was discovered that she had been quite well off and had owned the land outright. In her will, she deeded the aforementioned real estate to the townspeople, with the stipulation that no houses would ever be built there; that it would become a garden, instead. Now, instead of being ugly and unkempt, it was one of the prettiest places on the pretty tree-lined street. But - here’s that infamous but again - those pretty trees had big ol’ roots that had buckled the pavement in places and years of bad weather had caused pot holes that had never been repaired properly. The bumpy street just plain needed paving. AND, it headed straight into Five Points, the intersection where six, (not five, but six,) of the busiest streets in town came together. The state-of-the-art traffic light did a good job of keeping things sane, but sometimes you had to wait what seemed like forever for your turn to go.

While she was sitting there trying to name all six points that came together up ahead (much like she sometimes tried to name all eight of Santa’s reindeer or Snow White’s seven dwarves,) the light changed from red to green. She slid her foot from the brake to the accelerator, pressed down, and for no better reason than just because, went straight. “Hmm,” she thought. “Wonder what it would be like if life were like this; if every time you chose a particular life path, you’d know ahead of time just what was ahead, the bad as well as the good.” In her heart, though, she knew that it wouldn’t be a good thing; that fretting over all the bad that could happen would keep you from fully enjoying all the good that was to be had. And besides, she just loved surprises.


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8 comments:

The Greggs said...

The link didn't work. But your signature looks great!!

deb said...

home between soccer games in the rain,
thanks for a smile and warm heart break

Jo@Mylestones said...

Oh, I just saw you posted it here too. Just lovely! Thanks again for participating this week!

Sweet Annabelle said...

Love this short bit of wonderful writing! I'm so impressed - I've always longed to write something like this! Applause,

s

Dawn said...

your images came alive! and the bits and pieces of lovliness all made my heart smile. but y es... surprises are what make life beautiful...

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

You are a wonderful writer. Thanks for giving us all a smile today.

Glad your test results were good too!

Bonita said...

Bee, please tell me that you are writing novels!! You have an amazing gift of writing and I would buy and read any books you care to write. Your style is effortless.

Not only do I love your style, but the story itself is fabulous. It really makes you think and apply it to life and I like writing that does both of those things.

When can I expect to see your books in the display windows at the bookstore with all of the other bestsellers?

sherri said...

Your writing is wonderful Bee- I could "see" all that you were decsribing- you have a great gift!

 
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