Best of Member Monday #7: Cut the Cake by Deborah Gilson

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #7 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cut the Cake

by Deborah Gilson

It was my fifth birthday. Mom headed to work in the city after dropping Ross, my four-year-old brother, and me off at nursery school. From the instant I awoke, I waited for the day to end. At nursery school I told Crystal, the most beautiful little girl ever, I had a cake coming that night after dinner.

The magic moment arrived for my mother to pick Ross and me up from nursery school. On the front passenger seat of our red Volvo station wagon, I saw my cake box. I asked Mom if she could drive home a little faster. Looking at me from her rear view mirror, she said she would try.

Ross pulled a funny trick on the way home and began making siren noises while we crouched on the floorboard of the back seat. Ross told her she was speeding and would probably get a ticket. Mom pulled the car over to the side of the road and waited. When no police car appeared, she heard our muffled giggles. Reaching her 12-foot-long arm into the back seat, Mom could not grab either of us. Exhausted from another day’s work as a single mother, she slowly put the pedal to the metal and continued the drive home.

Standing in our tiny kitchen, my mother asked me, the birthday girl, what I wanted for dinner. With tremendous excitement, I declared, “Dinner shot out of a cannon!” This meant breakfast-style food for dinner, the fastest meal in town.

After dinner, Ross and I cleared the dishes from the kitchen table; my grand event finally arrived. Out of the box came an elegant, small lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. The edges were lined in pink and yellow rosettes. My mother intentionally handed me a spatula, instead of a knife, and said I could cut the cake. My mother began washing the dishes; thankfully, her back was turned away from Ross and me.

With Ross standing as close as possible, I held up the spatula as a sword for his big blue eyes to see, translating my deafening non-verbal message, “Don’t you even think about coming near my cake!” Without saying a word, my mother sensed my selfish and greedy demeanor, so she interjected over her shoulder, “And Ross gets to choose the first piece.” With disbelief and even bigger blue eyes, I screamed, “WWWHHHAAATTT???!!!”

Grabbing my cake from the kitchen table, I gingerly placed it on the kitchen floor. So I would be eye-level with it, I laid down flat on the floor to get a bird’s eye view for the precise cut. Ross laid down next to me, resting his chin on his folded hands. I measured where to cut the cake into pieces so Ross would not have even one granule more. Finally, I felt secure knowing I cut the cake into equal portions. Using the spatula as a serving tool as well as a knife, I gently put a piece of cake onto my plate and walked to the kitchen table with my mouth watering. Again, my mother knew inappropriate behavior took place and told me to hand my piece of cake to Ross.  Tears began to well up by now; I was positive I would have no birthday cake.

Being me has never been easy, however, it is the memories of how I treated my younger brother while growing up, which are difficult to swallow. With Ross no longer living, I think about my birthday night and wish I had done things differently. I long to go back to the evening of April 2, 1965. If this were possible, I would hand the spatula to Ross and say, “It’s my birthday and I want you to cut the cake.”

Debbie & Ross, 1965 PDF Photo.pdf

Member Monday: Katy’s Spirits by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Katy’s Spirits

by Deborah Gilson

I’d been busting ghosts since I was a young girl, knowing they meant no harm. They were either unaware they’d died or felt they still belonged on planet Earth. Often when someone dies suddenly as in an accident, their spirit guides aren’t there to take them home because the death happened too suddenly for the guides to be alerted or called upon. In other instances, deceased beings feel they have a right to the home they once occupied and return. Others long for the life they once had and return for that familiarity.

Katy, my girlfriend on Kings Mountain, called saying there were ghosts in her home, causing upset since her kindergartner wasn’t sleeping well. She was desperate for my help and asked me to come over. I let her know her home needed to be quiet for me to effectively learn why the ghosts were there.

I went over the next day while her husband was at work and her two children were at school. I’d been sitting on the fireplace and Katy walked in to ask what kind of tea I wanted.  The back door was moving open by itself and she asked why that was happening. I

I said, “Well, I asked them to leave.” We believed the men to be Purdy Pharis, the man who was murdered there in 1884, and Hiriam Haskins, his suspected murderer. I encountered two men quarreling and a boy. I sent them all up in a bubble to fight it out up on top of our house, however, learned they no longer needed to fight. They needed to be heard and understood. The energy inside Katy’s house changed immediately and finally became their own.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Charles, Jr. by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Charles, Jr.

 by Deborah Gilson

In August of 1999, our family was on a road trip to Disneyland in a rented RV. It was a vacation, including six teen-agers, two of who were Ross, my deceased brother’s, kids. Spencer, our son, was two-and-half years old at the time. I remember my mother telling me, I ought to have my head examined for attempting such an excursion. As it turned out, this journey was a memorable one.

We made several stops along the way to various sites, such as Hearst Castle. We rode horses at a dude ranch and spent the night at a hot springs “resort” for RV drivers. Did you know the smelly waters of hot springs could turn even your most precious jewelry a greenish black?

At last, we arrived at Disneyland and checked into the Disneyland Hotel. The teen-agers were excited to get onto the rides. They were given their passes and off they ran. I stayed with Spencer, while my husband caught up to the others to enjoy big-kid rides. It was early in the afternoon when Spencer and I took the tram to Disneyland.

The intense Southern California sun was relentless. I pushed Spencer’s covered stroller to a water fountain, lifting him out so we could splash water on our faces. We were at the fountain approximately 10 minutes when a tall, blond, handsome fellow in his early 30’s, approached. He commented on how much fun we were having, watching us with envy and sadness. I looked closely at this man’s face and could see an empty, faraway look in his eyes. What was he thinking at this moment? What happened to this gentle-faced young man? I took the time to listen.

Holding Spencer’s hand, I asked this man why he approached. He said he had a son, Charles Jr., who was also two-years old, with blond hair and blue eyes. I told him I was enjoying my life with my son, feeling blessed having him. Charles Sr. pulled out of his wallet a well-worn photograph. A smiling boy, sitting next to the edge of his swimming pool, was wearing only a diaper. It was then the man began his story.

Charles Sr. was from Mariner’s Cove, the Hawaii Kai side of Oahu, Hawaii. I told him I lived on Oahu eight years, having attended the University of Hawaii. I spent a majority of my time in Mariner’s Cove with a family who accepted me as their calabash, or adopted daughter. I knew Hawaii Kai very well and even knew of the street on which he lived. What a twist of fate he and I should meet today.

One day, Charles Sr., and his young son were in their fenced backyard, sitting by the pool, playing. Thirsty for water, Dad carried Charles Jr., outside the pool area, setting him down near the gate. Dad had an eight-foot high, security-alarmed gate surrounding the pool, with a lock on the gate. After a mere two minutes, Dad returned to the pool area, calling his son. No answer. As Dad rounded the corner, to his horror he discovered Charles Jr., face down in the swimming pool, with his water-filled diaper visible.

Dad dove into the pool, pulled his son out of the water and administered CPR. With his portable telephone nearby, he dialed 911. The paramedics arrived, also administered CPR, only to deliver the most shocking news to Charles Sr., “I am sorry, Sir, we are unable to revive your son.”

Spencer and I stood quietly.  Charles Sr. broke the silence by telling me no matter how much security I think I have; never turn my back on my young son when he is near water. I nodded in agreement. I thanked this man for approaching and sharing his story. He told me the likeness of my son to Charles Jr., was so overwhelming, he felt compelled to talk with me. To this day, when Spencer is near water, I look back into the eyes of Charles Sr., and am reminded of his beautiful young son.

Charles Sr. has a gorgeous blond daughter now, whom we met. He displays a tremendous amount of devotion to his young daughter.

We do not know what awaits us around the corners of our lives.  We can, however, recognize and acknowledge the precious treasures we are given. When I look into Spencer’s eyes, I know I do.

Spencer PDF Photo.pdf

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: London Calling by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

London Calling

by Deborah Gilson

One way or another, I was going to Europe. Entering Kurt, my fiancé’, and myself in the 1996 London Marathon, I told my friends I was finally going abroad.

The only trouble with my plan was I AM NOT A RUNNER. Never have been, probably never will be. I began my training by walking around my block a couple times after work. B-O-R-I-N-G. I trained for a month before Kurt and I took flight to Europe. I mean, how hard can it be running 26.4 miles?

After landing in London, we went straight to the marathon headquarters and obtained our runner’s packet. The day arrived for the big race. Carrying a sack of essentials while I ran, it wasn’t long before I was throwing these items off my fanny pack. The heat was relentless, the millions of other runners had no idea of personal space and my old “running” shoes began to hurt my feet before the one-mile marker. Still, I continued jogging until I thought I would faint from exhaustion.

Seeing the back of a friendly-looking man’s head, I struck up a conversation with Joe, from England. He was running for the National Meningitis Trust, in an effort to create awareness of this disease. I told him I’d never heard of it. Speaking of hearing, the disease took the hearing from one of his ears. Having to repeat myself often to Joe, I began running on the side of his good ear.

Joe, determined to raise awareness for his cause, continued running while I stopped cold at the 10-mile marker. It was there I met Vicki, from Wales, who was also taking a running break. I told Vicki I’d heard of Wales as I followed whatever Princess Diana was doing. “Where in the heck is Wales anyway?” I asked Vicki. Thinking I was joking, she gave me a gentle push. Puzzled, I continued walking with Vicki, my new best friend.

Seven hours passed and I was still a participant in the London Marathon. At least I still had Vicki by my side. We learned each other’s entire lives during our walk. When we would see television cameras, Vicki would jump up and down, waving to her family back home in Wales, who were watching for glimpses of her.

Kurt, my fiancé’, planned completing the marathon in a little over four hours. It occurred to me he finished three hours ago. Positive he was back at the hotel resting after a hot shower, with perfect-feeling feet, body, mind, heart and soul, I nearly collapsed.

At long last, I saw the finish line. Grabbing Vicki’s arm for reassurance, I pointed to the only remaining people involved in the race: the volunteers. A vicar (priest) walked in between us, holding each of our arms in his. He walked us over the finish line as the timer displayed: 7: 15: 30. Yes folks, that’s right. It took Vicki and me a mere 7 hours, 15 minutes and 30 seconds to complete the London Marathon.

Vicki taught me I’d better learn geography, humor under duress, perseverance, the meaning of the word vicar and confirmed it’s possible to instantly feel I’ve known someone all my life. Her parting words to me were, “Remember, Debbie, it’s not how fast you do the race that counts. It’s the fact you finished what you started.”

London Calling PDF Photo.pdf

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Cut the Cake by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cut the Cake

by Deborah Gilson

It was my fifth birthday. Mom headed to work in the city after dropping Ross, my four-year-old brother, and me off at nursery school. From the instant I awoke, I waited for the day to end. At nursery school I told Crystal, the most beautiful little girl ever, I had a cake coming that night after dinner.

The magic moment arrived for my mother to pick Ross and me up from nursery school. On the front passenger seat of our red Volvo station wagon, I saw my cake box. I asked Mom if she could drive home a little faster. Looking at me from her rear view mirror, she said she would try.

Ross pulled a funny trick on the way home and began making siren noises while we crouched on the floorboard of the back seat. Ross told her she was speeding and would probably get a ticket. Mom pulled the car over to the side of the road and waited. When no police car appeared, she heard our muffled giggles. Reaching her 12-foot-long arm into the back seat, Mom could not grab either of us. Exhausted from another day’s work as a single mother, she slowly put the pedal to the metal and continued the drive home.

Standing in our tiny kitchen, my mother asked me, the birthday girl, what I wanted for dinner. With tremendous excitement, I declared, “Dinner shot out of a cannon!” This meant breakfast-style food for dinner, the fastest meal in town.

After dinner, Ross and I cleared the dishes from the kitchen table; my grand event finally arrived. Out of the box came an elegant, small lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. The edges were lined in pink and yellow rosettes. My mother intentionally handed me a spatula, instead of a knife, and said I could cut the cake. My mother began washing the dishes; thankfully, her back was turned away from Ross and me.

With Ross standing as close as possible, I held up the spatula as a sword for his big blue eyes to see, translating my deafening non-verbal message, “Don’t you even think about coming near my cake!” Without saying a word, my mother sensed my selfish and greedy demeanor, so she interjected over her shoulder, “And Ross gets to choose the first piece.” With disbelief and even bigger blue eyes, I screamed, “WWWHHHAAATTT???!!!”

Grabbing my cake from the kitchen table, I gingerly placed it on the kitchen floor. So I would be eye-level with it, I laid down flat on the floor to get a bird’s eye view for the precise cut. Ross laid down next to me, resting his chin on his folded hands. I measured where to cut the cake into pieces so Ross would not have even one granule more. Finally, I felt secure knowing I cut the cake into equal portions. Using the spatula as a serving tool as well as a knife, I gently put a piece of cake onto my plate and walked to the kitchen table with my mouth watering. Again, my mother knew inappropriate behavior took place and told me to hand my piece of cake to Ross.  Tears began to well up by now; I was positive I would have no birthday cake.

Being me has never been easy, however, it is the memories of how I treated my younger brother while growing up, which are difficult to swallow. With Ross no longer living, I think about my birthday night and wish I had done things differently. I long to go back to the evening of April 2, 1965. If this were possible, I would hand the spatula to Ross and say, “It’s my birthday and I want you to cut the cake.”

Debbie & Ross, 1965 PDF Photo.pdf

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Aunt Shirlee’s Angel by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Aunt Shirlee’s Angel

by Deborah Gilson

Cats are said to have nine lives. Humans have one, however, there’s one exception: my aunt Shirlee. She’s seen more lives in her near-85 years than any cat on GOD’s green earth.

The other night, I called at her resident’s home to catch up. She pleaded to have, “The good Lord take me home.” I said I honor her wish. She apologized she couldn’t wait any longer for my dreams to come true. She said it was taking too long for my loving man to enter my life. She said she was sorry my writing career didn’t happen while she was still alive. I told her I understood.

Aunt Shirlee fell a few days ago and ended up in the hospital again. This morning in honor of Valentine’s Day, I went to the hospital to see about cheering her up. The moment I walked into her hospital room she said, “Listen, Debbie. This hospital stuff is getting to be old news.”

We talked an hour and a half when she said with a glimmer in her eyes, “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. The nicest nurse visited me this morning at ten past four. She turned on a light, just bright enough for me to see her and that clock on the wall. It wasn’t glaring, it was just right. When I asked if she was here to give me more medication, she said she was only here to visit.” I let Aunt Shirlee know that was an odd time for anyone to just pop in for a visit.

Aunt Shirlee explained this was no ordinary nurse. I said, “Oh? Tell me about her.” Aunt Shirlee began describing her special nurse saying, “Well, she had blonde, crinkly, wavy hair to her shoulders. I asked what hours she worked and the nurse explained, she’s here for me 24/7. Whenever I need her, she’ll know. She told me her workplace is immediately outside my door on the right. She said there’s a group of offices and hers is the closest to my room.”

My antenna was on high by now. I let Aunt Shirlee know there were no offices outside her hospital door, only more hospital rooms. She asked me to double-check. I poked my head outside the door, looked down the long corridor and saw only what I’d seen walking to her room upon my visit. Aunt Shirlee’s face was visibly perplexed.

At that moment, a male Hispanic janitor walked in to mop the floor and empty the waste basket. I thanked him for coming in and Aunt Shirlee asked him, “Excuse me, could you please tell me if there are any offices outside my room?” He said, “No, ma’am. There are only more hospital rooms.”

Aunt Shirlee asked with a curious look, “Debbie, who came to my room this morning?” I gently said, “Aunt Shirlee, that was an angel.” Aunt Shirlee paused a moment and then asked, “Why did she come see me?” I explained, “The angel knew you’d been feeling alone and she’s here to let you know whenever you need a friend, she will be here.” Aunt Shirlee replied, “Well, she sure was pretty.”

At that moment, my aunt Audrey called on Aunt Shirlee’s hospital phone. I knew it was time for me to leave. When Aunt Shirlee’s time is finished on earth, I’ll be at peace, knowing she has an angel guiding her home.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Cory by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cory

by Deborah Gilson

Life would be critical if I didn’t get another bunch of bananas today. I needed one to take to the YMCA for that night’s work out. I moseyed into Safeway for all the items on my list, paid for them and walked out.

I noticed a handsome man in his early 20s sitting on the sidewalk holding a sign reading: Hungry and Homeless. I grabbed a banana from my bag, walked over and sat down next to him, “Hi, I’m Debbie. Wanna banana?” He gently took the banana from my hand, peeled back the skin and said, “Thank you, Debbie. I’m Cory.”

Curiosity took over and it wasn’t long before I asked about his plight and how he’d become homeless. He said he’d been married and his wife’s father owned the apartment complex where they lived. Once they divorced, Cory was told to leave and explained he couldn’t afford the rent on his own. I asked whether he could get a room-mate for another unit and he said he wasn’t from the area and therefore, didn’t have anyone he could ask. He said his biggest lesson is he relied only on his efforts with his wife believing they’d be together forever.

I asked whether he could save up money from where he worked and he let me know he worked for his former father-in-law who let him go. He confessed after so many personal set-backs, he sunk into a deep depression and only had the energy to sit with a sign.

Cory said he didn’t have a place to shower and by now it was no longer the first thing on his mind anymore. I told him he was a decent looking person who only needed a little touch-up. He smiled and exposed the whitest, straightest, cleanest teeth in a most brilliant smile. My eyes flew open wide and he pulled out a toothbrush from his back pocket. I told Cory his teeth would get him through his darkest hour.

I handed Cory a $20.00 dollar bill and said I really didn’t care what he did with the money, however, I suggested he purchase an inexpensive, disposable, plastic razor. I told him to keep his blond hair combed and out of his eyes. I gave him a laundry list of things to keep in the forefront of his mind and to sit up straight when holding his sign.

Cory gave me an education in the hour we sat shoulder-to-shoulder. I told him I’d wondered since I was a child how people became homeless. I’d seen panhandlers in the streets of San Francisco since I was high enough to see out the back window of my mother’s car. Ross, my younger brother, and I would push out button noses to the window and watch them as our car drove past. Cory needed only one person to believe he was worth being a part of functioning society again.

I told him I’d come by next week and I’d better not find him sitting here because I knew he was going to make it. After my workout at the Sequoia YMCA the next week, I slowly drove into the Safeway parking lot fearing I’d see Cory sitting there still, however, his spot on the sidewalk was vacant. Although I was disappointed not to have another visit, I was relieved he knew someone believed in him.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!