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Tag Archives: Family

The Coffee Table…

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This is a very, very short story of a long marriage that “ends” after thirty-six years with spurts of happiness and much tribulation; the end came over twenty-five years ago. Now that the logistics is out of the way, this numeric information is relevant to the title…the coffee table. 

I chose to end the marriage that had been filled little happiness and many tumult periods from the beginning.  It is important to know that before ending such a marriage my children were adults.  I walked away on a sunny June morning with a suitcase, my dog and a rented car.  I did not want anything that was a part of my past.  The coffee table bought in the mid-sixties was going to be tossed in the mid-nineties; it had been in the basement of my sons’ home.  Cleaning time. 

I said yes, I would take it.  Somehow it meant something to me; the only thing that I would have from my marriage.  This ageless contemporary piece of furniture carried with it many memories.  Shopping for furniture in 1979 was during a better time, my then husband and I spent an entire day searching the stores until the one meant for us was found.  A few days later the table would be tossed across the room in a rage of madness, the inside frame broken.  I repaired the table and it was like new.

It would appear that the coffee table itself was somehow demonic.  Over the period of ten-years, the coffee table would split open the chins and one cut above an eye of two boys wrestling in the living room.  It placed cuts on grandchildren that tripped and fell on its corners.  It left bruises on shins of the entire family who chose to hurry around the object of discussion.

 

It had its good moments too.  It served as desk where hundreds of thousands pages of homework was done.  Throughout its “life” served as step stool, craft table, coloring table, and eating and snack table.  It has held plants, books and other things during the different seasons.  I smile as I think back at the many good times my children and I had sitting around this table when my husband was out of town.  We glorified the days without chaos.  When I received the coffee table, I painted the dark wood white, a pure color that would remove all turmoil significance.  Throughout these past years, it has been repainted the same white many times.

This brings me to the present and for the record, I have stated many times that the table is being held together by the paint.  Apparently, it was…my four-year-old grandson used it as a bounce board and then I sat on the table to talk to my granddaughter and poof; I ended its life and an era.

 

Well you would not believe the “moans” from my children, “ah can’t it be fixed”?

 

There was no pain in its exodus from my home, well maybe a little as it was heaved into the trash.  I suddenly understood that I had held onto it for the memories, memories that are embedded deep within me.  The good ones I will keep, the bad will soon be hauled away.  I thought about what could have been and never was; time wasted, and I looked for the last time at the only thing that was left of a long marriage… the coffee table.   

 

 

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

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The Tapestry of Life

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The Tapestry of Life…

The individual self is an actor, life is the stage; we are masters of our emotions capable of expressing self-assurance, joy and rage.

There is a hidden self, living deep within the forest of life, one that we prefer not to show, it is only the image of strength and confidence that we truly choose to expose.

It is during the times of valleys and peaks, darkness and fear; that we wear a mask, we masquerade keeping emotions hidden in the forest of our souls, yet within sight and near.

The landscape of ourselves guides us to better places, and it is the silent strong self that transforms our outward faces.

To believe in our aspirations and make our lives worth living, to hope we cling; it is within the landscape of our strong confident selves that allows us to dream.

We perform in our world upon the stage of life where we remain perfect impressionist; yet it is only when we change the landscape of our lives we find true happiness.

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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[All writing is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.]

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Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

 

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Bayou Gauche Death…

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Bayou Gauche Death

untitledDrawing by Anneka Reay

 

At dawn, Ruby Waters life light went out, in the dark her children cried; a candle glowed against the rustic rough boards of the shanty shadowing the souls left behind.  Laid to rest quickly in the Louisiana heat; the moon cast a glow on her shallow grave.  The children’s tears burn hot upon their dirt-streaked faces as relatives who heard the shots took them away.  Drunken Gat Waters had shot his emaciated wife because she was pregnant again then yelled, “Now dat’ are two less mouths to feed”.  They were swamp folk no one outside Bayou Gauche would ever know.

 

 

 

 

Text Copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree 

Publishing Rights AsterialThoughts.100WordShortStories 2016 by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

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Bayou Gauche Death is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

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THINGS – FAMILY OR FRIENDS – NEED OR GREED

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Family or Friends-Need or Greed

We are collectors, closets

filled with things that

seldom use, are these

kept of need, or greed. 

 

We are collectors; the

cracked mirror in the

basement, Grandmas’ as

children it distorted our

faces, made us laugh,

need or greed. 

 

We are collectors; boxes

of colored papers, dried

plaster with tiny hands,

boxes of remembrances

that no one ever see’s, need

or greed.

 

We are collectors; that old

chair of Great-Grandmas’ fills

a corner in the den, as well as

Grandpas’ old gun given to him

by a friend, need or greed.

 

We are collectors; sometimes our

treasures shroud us in sorrow,

happiness or fear, still we hold them

dear and near, need or greed.

 

It is the same with people…friends

or family we are collectors of this

too.  We have held onto them through

happiness or sorrow, to be the

only one who gives, holds on and

keeps coming back for more sadness,

to be tossed away.

need or greed.

 

Collectors of things or people, it may

be time to clear out what we do not need,

and of the people that does not care and 

offends us, or that were in our lives for greed.

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©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

 

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The Intention to Deceive…

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An excerpt from “Fire, Rain and Lies”…

 

The intention to deceive…

A sad woman and her children stood in the graveyard on top of a small knoll watching the funeral service of her mother; asking herself, why she had come to this so-called deified ground.  The real “family”, the one acknowledged by a small gathering of people standing quietly next to the little mound of Alabama’s blood red dirt accepted the family, the two people and their children worthy of mourning the dead.  These worthy people sat in front of the casket, chairs prepared for a “family”.  A relative, a lecher, a pander of a church, an on-line bought preacher spoke of someone that he did not really know. 

There on the knoll stood four people, the woman too proud to let it show that she was being insulted and snubbed; her children protectively at her side.  Treated like yesterdays garbage upon arrival for this audacious occasion, shunned, hate shown without remorse from the “family”.  Why, because she dared to be there.  The dead, the woman in the casket had never wanted her, and although she came to see her faithfully, the selfish woman pushed her away.  Is there a hell for such people, should they or do they deserve to be called Mother?

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One week earlier, when the Mother lay dying… the lies began, “family” needed time to  open Wills, to move around assets to the “family” coffers.  Like so many years before, greed was again desperately trying to kill the seed.  Kept an aged body alive for financial gain, keeping “it” alive was beneficial. 

She was told not to come to the hospital.  The lies quickly followed, while all the time the entitlement that raged through the “family” was all that was present, no grief, instead of the grimness of death there were on faces of greedy ploys.  Gluttony bloomed before the sun would set upon that final day; looks of lying and take, take, take, their lives took on the presence of a forged tongue.  Always speaking of God, hope and prayer will not remove the presence of lies.

She left with her children knowing the “family” would hope that she would never return and they got what they wanted for a time.  She eventually returned in hopes of finding change, finding a family that wanted her, as she had always wanted them.  Lastly, she said her final good-bye. Never again, to face open jeers, false deeds, see honors lost; the price of greed can be at a great cost.  Roars of detest, to feel abhorrence of; hate; dislike intense continues now with the one’s that worry she may return.  Most of the “family” has since died but there still lies in the misty breath of strife… hate.  She is glad that the “bad omen” did not follow her in life and now destiny has finally caught up with the liar’s and their lives.          

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphre

 

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Sundays at our house…

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Sundays at our house…

Sunday was the only day of the week that my mother was home, she and my sister Billie (before she got married at fourteen) would dress up in their fancy store bought clothes for church.   I never understood the importance of dressing up when I was a child; I thought I looked fine in a shirt, jeans or even overalls.  I admit that my mother had a hard time trying to make look like a little lady; I just did not have it in me.  I had a dress or two, but I just soon go naked than wear one.

Daddy never went to church.  She would try to make him go on Easter, his answer “That would make me a hypocrite since I don’t go any time the rest of the year.  To this day, I believe he is right.  I never saw my daddy smile much, but he did every Sunday when my mother made me go to church.  I knew she would soon be dreading her choice in making me go to church with them; she knew that I would be “singing loud and tapping my feet” while the rest of the people as she would say, knew how to sing softly. 

Mother insist that I attend that little old Southern Baptist church called Rural Grove on top of Burleson Mountain, she thought that I would get a religious foundation.  I never thought much could come from watching the preacher beat the pulpit, raise his fist in the air while blaring out his stories of “hell and damnation”.  You could see calmness in some, in others you saw fear, as they still smelled of the Moonshine they drained from jugs.  I was never afraid, my daddy always said that if I was kind to people believed in doing good, we would know someday, I would be fine.  I believed in the way of my Native American Heritage, I was part Chickasaw. 

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So, I sang as loud as my spirit wanted  while they sang soft, accept old lady Ragsdale, many times I thought if the roof was not nailed down it would bounce up and down; I think I did hear the bell clang once.  I danced barefoot in-between the hand hewed benches every once in awhile, and it did not bother me when I would hear the congregation call me a heathen child.  I could hear my mother after church apologize for my actions.  Heck, I always thought God and me had a good time on Sundays and I never believed in “hell and damnation”; my daddy always said how could there be a hell we are living in it here on earth.  I still believe that!

Buddhist Temples, Mosque, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, Protestant, Mormon, all Temples…I know that I have left many out in this writing and I apologize; wherever anyone goes to worship their  personal God and pray is a good place.

Nonetheless, I knew everyone in our little church and I felt that many of them displayed their goodness in that little church…but left it there when the service was over, including my mother.  As for me, I have not changed much through the years I see my God in everything.  I am far from perfect, and I am not afraid to admit it, every day I am alive is a good day and every day is a good day to die, so I was taught.

Believe me when I say, I loved that little church and the singing and I loved my mother!

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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The Icebox…

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The Icebox…

In 1943, my family became the proud owners of a new used icebox.  A square box, one door, when you opened it there were two compartments, one with shelves and one at the top where a block of ice could the stored.  My daddy made the trip into Decatur every Saturday to the ICE Company to purchase a block of ice.  He would wrap in a burlap bag to keep it from melting during the forth-five minute trip home in Alabama’s August heat.  This icebox looked like the old one without the rust looking much like a dead vine crawling up the sides and door.

My Grandpa Johnson (whom I called Mr. Johnson, that is another story), but my sister Billie called him that endearing name.  Anyway, Mr. Johnson (my daddy’s daddy) hitched old Soap Sticks, our mule to a wagon taking the old icebox into the pasture throwing it into a Sink Hole.

It was the summer my ten-year-old-sister convinced me a four-year-old that she had a new game for me to play.  Excited I ran to the pasture with her.  All throughout our childhood she played spiteful tricks on me.  This one was the promise of playing “train”, I would soon know it was another trick.  We slid down into the Sink Hole, a dangerous thing to do but she was more afraid than I was.  I seem to live within my own world where fear was not in my make-up; my memory is vivid from that age, a blessing or curse.

She told me that I was to be the passenger and she the Engineer.  I sat down inside and she shut the door.  I could hear her laughter as she ran away.  Yes, the door should have been removed, but it was 1943, safety was not thought of in those days.

It was a Saturday, and normally I was with my daddy; when he remembered that he had not seen me for some time he questioned my sister as to my whereabouts.  She quickly answered that she had not seen me since waking that morning.  Mr. Johnson started walking through the sugarcane field next to our house and daddy rode his horse into the woods they knew that even at four the woods and fields were my playgrounds .  Soon, Mr. Johnson hollered for my daddy, he heard my dog Buttercup barking in the pasture.  They said my daddy road like the wind, jumping the barn and pasture-fencing heading toward the bark.

Buttercup was barking at the door, daddy jerked the icebox door open and by now, I was  blue.  Scared, he did not know what to do ; he got back on his horse with me across his lap and rode to a spring feed pool that was ice cold in the hottest of summer days.  He laid me in the pool splashing water on my face.  He said that within a few minutes I began to cough and cry.  He thought I had died, and maybe I did.

While Mr. Johnson went to the Sink Hole to turn the icebox over on the door, daddy carried me into the house the first question, my mother asks calmly looking at my limp body…

“Well, has she been swimming in the catfish pond again?” 

Daddy told her what happen, as he placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for getting my clothes wet.  She looked toward my sister saying

“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister”

Later, my sister smiled when no one was looking sticking her tongue out at me!

Below is my painting, an image in acrylics of our old barn and pasture.

22.Lynns barn

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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