Member Monday: The Colors of My Life

blue capsules in blister pack

Today we have a piece from Writers Forum member Jennifer Levens.

We especially love to run fiction pieces from Writers Forum members on Mondays. See below for submission details.


Photo by Anastasiia Ostapovych on Unsplash

The Colors of My Life

By

Jennifer Levens

I see it on the counter, then it is in my hand. I hold it as I draw a glass of water and then…. I place it on my tongue and swallow. There, I took it. There are twenty-nine more of them, one for every day, and then I am ‘new’.

Everybody is doing it or has done it. I am one of the last. Is being all one color going to change prejudices? I don’t know. It won’t change how I feel. I always thought it was stupid to hate the inventor of peanut butter because he was brown. Oh, and to hate people who revere our celestial home just because they had a good suntan and so on. Seems to me the colorless ones have done the most damage to the Earth and humanity through greed and avarice and hate. They have perpetuated their existence by stepping on all others less powerful than they. I don’t think it is the solution to the problem, but the pills were free to the entire population so everyone on Earth could take them. They are the cure to strife and hatred in society, but I don’t think that will work. Side effects, lots of side effects but I don’t feel any yet.

Day Three and nothing is happening. This is typical according to my friends and what I have read. Oh yes, I did my research. I hate putting new things in my body without the research. I have to go to the Darknet, you know. The regular one is so full of BS.

Day Seven and nothing seems to be happening. I am still me; no changes, well I pee more but nothing else. No pains or aches I didn’t have before. Oh God, please don’t let me be in the one percent. I mean what are the odds? I was never there before when it meant more wealth and power than any one person should have. Well, you see, if you were in the one percent, you were obscenely wealthy and powerful, but that fell with the Fall Revolution of 2024. Over three hundred of the richest C.E.O.’s died and the chickens..t subordinates didn’t want to be next. Who said Napoleon was wrong? Knock off one or two generals and the rest will fall into line.

Day Twelve and still nothing. I should be seeing something. A tinge, a change, but I see nothing. I colored my hair yesterday. Couldn’t stand the dirty brown anymore. It has honey blond streaks and looks really good for a home job. Oh well, maybe I am in the one percent. Just my luck. I get flu shots and then get the flu. I exercise and lift weights and then trip over the dog and break my hip. Not as bad as it sounds. Everything came out fine and my hip doesn’t hurt anymore, but I’m just saying….

Day Fifteen. I look in the mirror and see the freckles where the sun has kissed my cheek. I wish the sun would kiss me enough to merge the freckles into a nice suntan. That may not be the necessary outcome, but earlier on it would have been nice.

Day Seventeen and I am still the same. I have a runny nose, not a given side effect of the pill. Probably an allergy to the outdoors. I went out yesterday to the backyard. It was such a mess, so I cut everything back. No more fire hazard, but now my nose runs.

I don’t go out to the street these days. Differences you know. It’s too much trouble to cover every inch of my body. Might as well be wearing a burka. I would still look out of place, different. No, I pay by card and have deliveries made at the door-no contact. Reminds me of the pandemic of 2020-2023. Now that was change and not necessarily for the better. So much change but no solutions. I think it is time that we move on before we really do move on. Mother Earth must be telling us something. Plagues, natural disasters, global warming, fires extreme heat and cold in all the wrong places. Come on, humans, heed the call.

Day Twenty-one and still no change. I have to get some more groceries in here. I wonder if the market will still deliver to me. I look out the window and see a myriad of people walking the sidewalks, traveling in cars. Stores are open. Everything is open, just not me. Society is flourishing, just not me. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to be a statistic. Being different is not good.

I can work from home. I choose not to use a camera when I give my reports. I tell them that I am seriously disfigured from a grease fire and won’t be able to be seen until I am fixed. It is okay to work from home. I get everything done before breakfast in the morning and then just while away the day doing handcrafts and watching the telly. Oops! I am watching too many
British shows, but they are so good, the old ones that is. Color doesn’t translate too well in the new ones.

Day Twenty-seven and still nothing. My friends tell me that they changed between day Fifteen and day Twenty-six. If anything I have even less color than before. I am really pale. The good news is that the grocery still delivers and so does Amazon, but I am all puzzled out and one can have only so many toys before they to become boring and old hat, so that is why I am journaling. Thought a record of my ‘change’ would be fun to read twenty years from now. It is helping though. My mind is less crowded with downer thoughts. The differences that I see on the shall we say Internet are too much for me. And you know what the arguments have not ceased. There are now colonies of Non-changers who are all different colors, but they are in co-ops like the old Hippies of the twentieth century had. That must have been an exciting time. They wanted change too. They succeeded more than they knew. It wasn’t all sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. There were some real considerations made in politics and the environment. Then with the elections of money hungry war mongering politicians, the picture changed and started to support the true capitalistic picture of Fascism where the organization reigned supreme and to hell with the little guy but forget all of that. Maybe this isn’t all political. Too bad the Paleface couldn’t see that the problem was his to fix in his own basic concept of self and not the responsibility of the beautiful colors that populated the Earth to change that concept.

Me not so much. I am not there. Nothing has changed for me, nothing, nothing, nothing. I would give anything for just a tinge of color. Well, maybe it is not to be. I wonder if there is makeup to hide behind? I’ll check it out on the ‘net.

Day Thirty and the pills are gone, and nothing has happened. I am in the one percent! I will not go out again. I checked on the makeup, but it is easily detected so it is not an option for me. My life is over. I have heard what happens to those who did not change. I have seen on the television. I have read in the on-lines. I cannot go out. I will never be accepted. I never turned blue.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

Short Story Contest Entry: Bedpans and Walther P38s

Today we have another entry received for the Writers Forum 2020 Short Story Contest.

Since the contest judges are supposed to be judging the entries without knowing who wrote them, the author’s names will be withheld until after the winner selection. After the winners have been chosen, all authors will be identified, and the top three stories will be re-posted. The contest is only open to Writers Forum members. Click here for the complete contest rules.

So far our Member Monday Short Story feature is looking pretty good!


 

 

Bedpans and Walther P38s

(A Christmas to Remember) 

 

Many people escape via expensive out-of-the-country vacations or by weekend get-a-ways.  Some escape by watching movies or by playing games. Me? I Amazon. I am addicted to seeing that brown box (the box with a questionable phallic logo) resting on my front porch as if to say, “Pick me! Open me!”

Amazon’s intrusion began several years ago. My “old-school” wariness would not release me to commit such sin as shopping online. The realization that I could stay in my pajamas and get the all the grandkids their Christmas presents convinced me to risk everything.

True joy begins from that moment I see a screen-full of possibilities on my lap-top or iPhone, items to feed my addiction. The beautiful (sometimes ruinous) journey is afoot.

It didn’t take Amazon long before they offered the best marketing scheme ever: Buy Now With 1-Click?   If ever a sentence could be described as delectable, this would qualify.  But they didn’t stop there––Prime delivery––why, you can have this in two days for “free.”  Free for an annual fee––ingenious.  A recent addition is the “buy again” button––extremely convenient. What will they think of next?

As I sat pondering potential deliveries, I remembered past disastrous purchases: the Christmas ornaments that looked huge on-screen but arrived a mere one-quarter inch diameter; the children’s animal book that failed to pique interest from the four-year-old; weirdly (and putrid) colored shoes; wall décor sized completely wrong for my walls. I have learned to read with care and read between the lines as my hand hovers over the keyboard ENTER key, I think twice– three times–before making the final click.

I choose my items, and proceed through the steps: would you like the arrival date to be this Tuesday, postage-free; for $3.99 more you could have this on Monday; add to your dash button? It would be ever so easy to reorder.  Thank you, Amazon.

I’m always eager to help family find just what they are looking for.

“Gramma, did you say you need a bedpan? Let me look for you.” I am giddy.

If only hindsight had been my guide.  I now have a bedpan in my Face Book feed; subject lines of countless emails read: because you bought a bedpan; just press “click” to buy again; people who have purchased a bedpan have also purchased the following items; and finally (although, I’m sure it won’t be) I have a picture of Gram’s bright, shiny––thankfully still unused––bedpan in that blasted buy again? button.

* * *

It was seven days before Christmas, and I still had to purchase gifts for 21 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and 10 adults. Technically, Christmas was eight days away, but our family gathers for dinner on Christmas Eve, opening gifts after the grandchildren wash the dishes.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Oh, here I go. I snuggled into my favorite love-seat position: blanket; feather-pillow; pajamas; steaming mug of coffee latte at the ready, with the Amazon page brightly shining and resting on my lap. Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24 by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra transmitted via Apple TV; it was so loud that I thought I heard the neighbors singing along.

I read that Amazon Prime members were extended an offer-of-the-day to have purchases gift- wrapped for free. I started to clap my hands. I had forgotten I was holding the latte, and nearly doused my shopping cart.

The doorbell rang. I was greeted by a small crowd; my third-born daughter, Angela, her six-month-old twin daughters, Annakate and Adeline, and her ten-year-old son, Dylan. I welcomed them in, and as they were seated, Dylan spied my computer and asked if he could play Minecraft on it.

“Of course,” I said with a wink at the platinum-haired boy, “That’s why I downloaded it, silly Dilly.” He carried the laptop to the dining table, and I set my attention to oohing and awing over the twins.

They left. I returned to my Amazon shopping, made my selections and set about washing dishes, making the bed, and tossing clothes into the washing machine.  As I cleaned, I made a mental grocery list for the big dinner. Then, it came to me; a jolting revelation, so jolting I swear I heard the angels sing. I could order all my groceries on Amazon.

***

I opened the door to the UPS delivery truck driver asking for my signature and I happily signed, although I wasn’t sure why this particular delivery required a signature; she didn’t look happy. She must have made 12 jaunts––truck to doorstep, using a dolly–– getting more red-faced each time, as I stood gawping. Her parting words were something about why I thought I needed 42 Christmas hams and concluded with a caustic Merry Christmas.

I smiled, dripping with saccharine to shield my consternation, I called out something about her job security. I ogled (my face as frozen as the hams) for a few minutes at the mass covering the front porch and decided the Amazon SNAFU could be dealt with in the morning and began dragging the boxes inside.

The new day arrived; the sun shining in a clear blue sky despite putting my order with the Big Guy for snow. I wondered if I should have checked with Amazon Prime.  I hoped and prayed that the one special gift would arrive before dinner as I baked all day for the expectant, hungry horde.  The gift was delivered at last, and I placed it upon the swollen mound that exceeded the “under the tree” notion.

I rang the Amazon office contact number only to reach an automated response: closed for the holidays, please try again December 26, 2017

***

The moment the kids had waited 365 days arrived. I beamed at my family–– mostly for the expectant joy on all faces. I donned my Santa hat and began dispersing gifts. The family rule was to wait until everyone had all their gifts piled at their side. The teenagers offered to play Santa’s elves to speed things up.

I gave the traditional secret Santa signal and madness ensued. The neat freak son-in-law trailed behind, best he could, crumbling shreds of wrapping paper into large, black trash bags.

Holliss, seven, shrieked, “How did Santa know I like red foxes?”

Her mother, Rebecca, the family baby, gave me the look that she was famous for and I asked what was wrong.

“Really, Mom? You gave my daughter a water bottle that reads “‘What the Fox’?’’

I couldn’t answer.

“Mother!”

It was Christa, my second-born and mother to seventeen-year-old Janessa, who screamed, “What are you thinking? The Kama Sutra? A book on sex?”

Oh boy, I thought, I know I’m in BIG trouble. Still, I said nothing.

“Gram-Gram.”

I turned toward Nathan, his face as white as Christmas snow.  He told the room that Cohen had just opened his present. As he spoke, he twirled what looked like a toy gun in his hands. Nathan, 15, was a sharpshooter whose goal was to become a Special Ops sniper.

“Did you know this gun is real? It’s a Walther P38. You bought a five-year-old a gun?”

The room was still, not-a-creature-was-stirring, not-even-a-mouse kind of still. And quiet.

I felt the blood drain from my face as I stammered, “I-I-I.” I proffered a weak defense that I knew nothing.

“This is a mistake, Amazon doesn’t sell guns,” I yelled, and I snatched the gun away, “You all know how Amazon is, remember the fuzzy elf slipper incident?” Details best unknown.

Dylan started blubbering. His mother clutched him at the elbow and escorted him into a bedroom.

Everyone began gathering their things. The grandkids begged to stay and be entertained by the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas, and the parents acquiesced. They helped themselves to a glass full of my home-brewed eggnog. I was thankful this year’s batch was alcohol light. (The cook may –– or may not have––consumed the 16 ounces of rum the recipe called for.)  I noticed a flask being extracted from Rebecca’s pocket.

I was called into the bedroom and Dylan tearfully told me the tale. He noticed my Amazon page open and thought he was being helpful. When questioned about the book he said he added that to the cart because Janessa likes to exercise, and the book cover looked like people were exercising. He admitted he looked at toy guns for his cousin because he knew Cohen wanted to be a policeman.

“How did you order?”

“Easy. Buy now with one-click, Gram-Gram.”

“What about your mother’s stack of ten road signs that read ‘Drive like your kids live here’?”

“I have little sisters.”  I was thankful he didn’t order a sleigh full of toys. Or an Oozie.

“Gram,” Dylan added, “When I was playing Minecraft, you got an email attachment that I clicked on. They might have downloaded spyware.”

“It’s O.K., Dylan. I’m not mad and you’re not in trouble,” I comforted, “I’ll get to the bottom of this after Christmas.”

I remembered getting a package that didn’t quite look like it came from Amazon, but the gift inside was in wrapped in Santa Claus paper so I shrugged it off.  My imagination exploded like gas on flames and visions of ruthless arms dealers in Nigeria popped into my mind.

As I turned to the hopeful crowd waiting for their story, memories of my own childhood prank streamed like an Amazon Prime movie. When I was nine, my little sister, Lisa, and I walked across the field to Gramma’s house. She was outside hanging clothes on the line and unaware of our presence. I had a flash of brilliance and coerced Lisa (so she claims) into making the house appear ransacked. Then we hid while waiting for Gramma’s reaction. No one laughed at that either.

***

The families were leaving, and I was informed by unanimous consensus I was to send a screenshot prior to all purchases for their children. My four-year-old self’s inner monologue screamed, “You’re not the boss of me.” Instead, I shouted that I wasn’t in an assisted living home yet and asked, “What’s next? Taking car keys away?  Don’t forget who will be having to taxi me around town, if that’s what you’re thinking!”

I stopped just short of threatening to have an appointment every day when I remembered the party scheduled the next day and abruptly changed my tone to be as sweet as Royal Icing on a sugar cookie. I reminded them to drop the littles off at 4:00 p.m. They weren’t sure if that would happen.

“But we always have a Mad Hatter’s Tea party on Christmas Day,” I implored, “Since you were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s a thirty-something-year tradition.”

They weren’t convinced. I slammed the door. I heard engines roar and tires squeal.

Four o’clock Christmas Day came, and grandkids filed into the house, all in smiles and costumes appropriate for the Mad Hatter. But I suspected their attendance had more to do with quiet time and free babysitting––their parents looked quite disgruntled and no one spoke.

“Don’t mind them,” Holliss, a precocious child, piped up and hugged me with the strength of a baboon and within a split second I was cocooned in a group hug, “You’re the best Gram ever–– parents just don’t understand.”

 


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

Member Monday: Recycling, by Dale Angel

This week’s surprisingly poignant Member Monday contribution is from Dale Angel. Dale remains a crowd favorite at the semi-annual Read Arounds, and has become something of Redding’s Erma Bombeck.

dale-angel

There’s a consistent recycling program going on in my back yard. It runs on its own power. It makes me feel good when I volunteer piles of beautiful dead leaves, weeds that have served us all by holding the earth together, garden debris, useful kitchen peels, coffee grounds, cantaloupe rinds. It doesn’t need my assistance…but I get to help…like a bee that brings a small drop of flower juice to the hive…a gift he shares with us. He’s contributing to something bigger than himself.

My back yard is a small world. I walk on the violets, mint, oregano, and whatever else is hiding among the weeds. I have lots of weeds. The unrestrained strawberries produce delightful little flowers that turn to berries, then returns back to the earth for another recycling season. Undemanding little laborers work quietly under my feet preparing and repairing to make us happy for next year’s surprises.

The pear tree is parading its treasure at this time of year, knowing as soon as it gives birth and yields its beautiful golden fruit, it will drop its leaves that return to nourish the earth that allows it to live here. It pays its rent.

It can be interrupted by adversity. If death interferes with its ability to be productive, a new tenant will move in. A consistent recycling program keeps our earth alive. Most all life are producers in some way. I’m not sure that humanity is all that faithful to build. A closer look in our backyards is a good place to begin practicing appreciation on our part.

When I visit the dark corner of my yard with little sun, there are always white impatients greeting me. This is unearned beauty. They flower, if not for me, then for the angels.

Soon the earth will move a bit and you will find their spent life returning to nourish our place in the Universe. Every time I pile leftovers of plant life from a wild summer, placing the pine needles to keep the white Azaleas happy, I’m paying my rent, because in the spring, my son will visit. Although he’s asleep in the earth, his gift of them to me…as they flower, he revisits.

When we close our eyes to sleep, it’s comforting, quietly moving life is replenishing our home without disturbing a dew drop.



 

If you would like to contribute an original piece to Writers Forum for posting on the blog, please submit to writersforumeditor@gmail.com .  Please note ‘Submission’ in the subject line. All submissions are considered, but shorter pieces of 500-1500 words are preferred. We will consider all original works–poetry, short fiction and nonfiction, essays, humor, and memoir. We would also love to run your short pieces on writing as well. Share your writing insights with us. Thanks!

Member Monday: Larry Watters

Today’s Member Monday piece was read at last Saturday’s Read Around. Thank you, Larry, for sharing. Thank you, Vickie Linnet, for the photo.

Other Writers Forum members can submit the pieces they read to writersforumeditor@gmail.com , and they could be published in a future Member Monday.

Larry Watters

Vending Machines Are Evil…

Vending machines are evil. When you have severe food addictions like I do, they should put the vending machines out of reach. Maybe up a ladder would work, ‘since I can’t do ladders.

I don’t care how fancy my salad is, how many carrot and celery sticks I bring in (I store them in my shirt pocket, poking up like pens and pencils), or how weird some of my seaweed rice cakes are to other people (I like them), I still find myself drawn to the vending machines here at work. We have a whole wall of evil.

But our machines are not only evil, they are tricky. The ones that take paper money are the ones that don’t have any items over a buck, most being 60 cents or so. We have one that has sandwiches, etc, and they run you over 2 bucks. But that machine doesn’t take dollar bills!

We have another that if it repeatedly refuses your bills, you can reverse your dollar and it works. That one continually surprises people when I tell them to try flipping it around. They have a look of doubt about my sanity, looking as if they decided to humor me (which most do, since I am the favored idiot). But that goes away when it accepts it.

I am the ruler of the vending machines here, a fitting title for my “Life without Clots” style.

 

Vending Machines-Revisited…

It has been quite some time since I blogged about the evil vending machines here at work. One reason is that I have been managing to avoid them, so I have no thoughts about them.

But today I succumbed. And naturally, it generated a thought.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one could read the nutrition label before plunking in the quarters? Our Wall of Evil recently added Sconza’s Yogurt Pretzels to the mix. Hoping against all odds, I decided to buy a bag on the premise of, “Pretzels are good, yogurt is good,” knowing all along that yogurt as a sweet is not all that good for you, no matter how fancy the wrap, nor the claims of the company (Sconza has organic, kosher and other products).

Well, the bag proved me correct in my inner thoughts: The first ingredient was sugar and no fiber. Sigh. But they still tasted good, and hopefully, my “Life without Clots” will forgive my slip.

 

Larry Watters

A Different Sort of Member Monday

Our Member Monday spot usually features an original piece by a Writers Forum member. This week, we highlight a member who could use our help.

A novel from the Aimee Machado Mystery series by WF Program Director Sharon Owen (writing as Sharon St. George) has been nominated for an award. We can help her win that award.

Spine Damage, book four in the series, has been nominated for the 2018 “Reward of Novel Excellence” known as the RONE Award! You can see the nomination at this link: http://indtale.com/2018-rone-awards-week-six

Sharon’s book received a 4.5 star or higher review in InD’tale Magazine. This qualifies it to continue to the reader voting phase of the 2018 RONE Awards.  In this round the readers will be narrowing down the nominees for each genre by choosing the books they love best.

The voting for Sharon’s genre will be May 21st – 27th

Here are the voting instructions from InD’tale Magazine:

It is extremely important that all of Sharon’s readers and fans know about the voting dates!  We would hate to think a superior quality book lost only because people were unaware of the time limit. Also, voters MUST be registered on our website at www.indtale.com in order to vote. Once they register, if they haven’t already, they will be required to click the verification link sent to them via email. If they do not verify their registration with this link, they will be unable to vote. This is very important to help ensure that the voting is fair and maintains the high quality standards required for this top-tier award.

Once the voting is final and the four finalists’ books in Sharon’s genre are announced, those four books will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best mystery novel in the indie and small published world!  The winner will then be announced and awarded the prestigious RONE Award at the formal ceremony, October 6th, 2018 in Burbank, California at the InD’Scribe Conference. http://www.indscribe.com

We at InD’tale Magazine have put in an incredible amount of time and effort to create and present the most credible and prestigious award in the industry today.  Our three-round system of elimination covers every facet – highly rated and reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges.  No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.

Don’t forget, the voting window in Sharon’s genre is May 21st – 27th. Email writersforumprogramchair@gmail.com if you have questions.

Good luck, Sharon!