Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Holly Peterson has been coming to my "Writing from the Heart" workshop in Purcellville for several years now. An accomplished artist and co-owner of an art studio in Leesburg, her writing is suffused with wit and wisdom--and there is often an unexpected twist that gives the reader something to think about. Here are a few short pieces that she wrote in the workshop. Bon appetít!
A Sandwich for Lunch
Prompt: a photograph of a sandwich on a plate
Crispy baguette, greens, parsley, basil, mozzarella and heritage tomatoes - yellow with red and green stripes inside and out. It was Joe’s favorite sandwich. Even though he made dozens of them each morning, he always made two for himself on Mondays at home when the cafe was closed. Today he’d take the sandwiches and bicycle to the park. If Jill wasn’t too busy, she’d meet him near the fountain in the center and they’d share lunch.
Jill and Joe had a standing date, Mondays, 1 PM at the fountain, good weather and bad. Joe didn’t know much about Jill, but he enjoyed listening to the stories she could tell. She always arrived walking and pulling an old wire hamper on wheels, and she mostly wore the same dark jeans, sweater and plaid shirt, washed but never ironed. In the winter, she covered her gray, short curls with a knitted watch cap; in summer, she shaded her face with an old ball cap, the logo faded and too worn for Joe to decipher.
For all the stories Jill told, there was nothing to let Joe know where Jill lived or how her life had led her to the park and the street. Joe was pretty sure Jill was homeless or nearly so. Never drunk, always neat but never anything extra. Always the same routine. Jill ate half of her sandwich and carefully wrapped the remaining piece and tucked it in a tote. “For later,” she’d say.
It’s the Little Problems
Prompt: stream of consciousness writing
When did I become the senior and he the junior? When did he become so out of touch with the world? Is it only because of the blindness or is it more than that? How does his today fit into life, does it have merit? He called my time valuable and his, by comparison, valueless.
I watch the staff. We’ve answered all the questions about disabilities and accommodations, his and mine. Some staff understand and remember to say right and left and ask to confirm his comprehension. Others just wave and say over here or follow me - the blind leading the blind nowhere. His mind works still, albeit slowly. Too slowly for some and they laugh nervously and make approximate answers for him. Slow down, I think, and try to clamp my jaw shut to allow him the respect to respond as he will.
Exhausted, upset, hopeless or helpless or both. His puzzlement grows as the drugs finally make their impact. What does he think about his day? What do I think except to feel overcome by dread seeing my face overlapping his in the folds of the hospital bed.
"A Sandwich for Lunch" and "It's the Little Problems" © 2016 by Holly Peterson