So, my father is in a memory care unit and it is very well kept. Everyday the residents are taken off the floor where their rooms are and brought down to the Recreation Floor. This floor is huge and has many different spaces including a fake inside garden equipped with bird sounds. This Recreation Floor is on the 2nd floor.
My peeve is that my dad’s “apartment” is on the 3rd floor. The only way to get from floor to floor is with a key card that the workers have on their lanyards. That is fine, I get that they don’t want any escapees but you have to hope someone is free if you are stuck on a floor.
Last week I did my dad’s laundry. I brought it back and wanted to put it all away in his room. I went to the 3rd floor and put it away. I then wanted to get down to the second floor to see me dad. There were two people working on the 3rd floor with two residents. I asked them if they could let me down but they said they were occupational therapists and didn’t have a keycard. I called the front desk. The nice woman at the front desk said she would call someone on the second floor to come get us. Ten minutes later David and I are still waiting in the hallway. I called the desk again and the woman apologized. Someone came quickly that time. We visited with my dad and then had to find someone to let us back on the elevator to get back down to the main floor.
I wish they would just loan us a key card when we visit! We won’t let any residents out!!! We promise!
As he stood before the doors he pondered his options. There were more doors than usual and given his last trip through he wanted to make sure he chose the right one this time. His mind went back to the last door…
I remember opening the green door. I chose green on that particular day because the trees were full of new grown leaves, the grass was freshly cut giving it a greenish glow, and the world around me seemed alive. I didn’t know at that time that green wasn’t the door for living and thriving, it was the door for rotting and spoiled, for mold upon the top of the leftovers from last week. But I had gone not knowing this. I had gone thinking of positive things and life and love. I thank God I had that positive energy, otherwise I could have been stuck there forever.
When I opened the green door last time I was greeted with an odor, an indistinct odor that I couldn’t place right away. I let the door close softly behind me as I looked down the path that was waiting for me. It was a long path and there wasn’t much around it, not like the blue door, not like the purple door either. But it was the door I chose so I would move forward.
As I walked along I could hear the soft mewing of a cat wanting to be fed and I could hear the sucking sound of a baby nursing a bottle full of warm milk. Those were pleasant sounds, I had nothing to worry about. But as I rounded the corner, unable to see more than a few steps ahead of me, I noticed the figure, the woman in a dark green cloak, her back to me.
She was a petite woman, much shorter than I. She was facing a counter, a sort of kitchen counter, where bottles were lined up ready for filling. As I walked closer I could hear her crying, softly sobbing, and wondered why. I didn’t want to startle the woman so I cleared my throat to alert her of my presence. She lifted her head slightly but did not turn around. Instead she continued to cry softly.
When I finally reached the woman I could smell the sourness of milk, the rotting smell of old food, and then strangely mixed in, the soft smell of baby powder, tenderly spread upon a clean babys’ bottom. I wanted to turn away in disgust but instead I stepped closer, looking over her shoulder. It was there that I saw where the smell was coming from…
The woman was holding a large carafe. In it was a large green growth, closely resembling lichen on an old dead tree. Below the carafe, in the sink she stood against, were more baby bottles, all filled with a green liquid.
“I can’t feed my baby this poison, this filth, but I have nothing else and he is almost done with my milk.”
That must have been the suckling sound I had heard.
“My baby will die here if I cannot feed him.”
“Why is the milk so spoiled?” I asked.
“Because I can’t find any fresh milk and this is all I have”, she replied.
Taking the carafe from her hand I tried pouring out the milk from below the mossy growth. The milk poured slowly, but with a pure white color, a miracle considering the top of the bowl.
“Here is the fresh milk”, I said.
The woman turned to me, her crying had subsided. What I saw was horror. This woman, this mother, she was a monster! The flesh on her face was as hard and green as the moss on a mountain stone. Her teeth were black and her lips were cracked with dry blood.
I turned and ran as fast as I could, pounding my feet on the path, not wanting to look back, not knowing if she was following me or not. As I came closer to the green door I felt some peace and my fear turned to sadness. I came to a stop at the opening and heard a soft song being sung. It was her. She was singing a sweet song to her baby, telling the baby he would always be okay. The singing continued, softly, gently. I breathed a sigh of relief. I would be able to get out of this horrible place but I also knew I had saved that little life. I don’t know what happened before I got there and I surely didn’t want to know what would happen once I left but I knew I had done the right thing.
Reaching for the knob he hesitated. Why was he picking this orange door? What did orange make him think of? What horror would orange be connected to? He took this moment to think, think hard about his uncertainty. Orange was a pumpkin in fall, waiting to be carved and lit by a candle. Orange was fresh fruit and vegetables on a summer morning. He couldn’t think of anything that could go wrong with this door. He guessed he would have to take his chances.
He grabbed the knob and turned it, slowly pushing the door open.
I am not new to Song Lyric Sunday as a reader, but I am as a participant. Having fun with it last week I wanted to join in again. Here is my take on the theme…the first song that popped into my head
“Give Me One Reason”
Give me one reason to stay here And I’ll turn right back around Give me one reason to stay here And I’ll turn right back around Said I don’t want to leave you lonely You got to make me change my mind
Baby I got your number, oh, and I know that you got mine You know that I called you, I called too many times You can call me baby, you can call me anytime You got to call me
Give me one reason to stay here And I’ll turn right back around Give me one reason to stay here And I’ll turn right back around Said I don’t want leave you lonely You got to make me change my mind
I don’t want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life I don’t want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life I just want someone to hold me, oh, and rock me through the night
This youthful heart can love you, yes, and give you what you need I said, This youthful heart can love you, oh, and give you what you need But I’m too old to go chasing you around Wasting my precious energy
Give me one reason to stay here Yes and I’ll turn right back around Give me one reason to stay here Ooh and I’ll turn right back around Said I don’t want leave you lonely You got to make me change my mind
Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why I should stay Said I told you that I loved you And there ain’t no more to say
Welcome to the book tour for Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello! Read on for details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!
Publication Date: July 26th, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.
When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.
The parts recur––the son, the lover, the husband, the father, the friend, the citizen. They come in whispers and fragments, in the unwinding of memory. They come in your smile, in the laughter of our children, in nightmares, in bursts of violence against once precious objects. How do you gauge the parts of a life? Did I perform any of them well? How do you summon them into an unfettered whole?
I am old now. I’d hoped I would’ve figured out a few answers by this point, but the truth is I spend more time each day watching the Red Sox than thinking about such things. In the summer and fall, the games are on every day, often twice a day, and watching them gives Zeke and me something to do. Something zen exists about the game, something appealing to me as I age, something about the stillness, the waiting, the bursts of energy, all mimicking the best and worst times in life. And I like the red, blue, and gray uniforms. They remind me of a more structured time.
Zeke, a big black, brown, and white mutt I rescued about ten years ago, keeps me company in our cabin. When I first got him, he liked digging holes in my yard, searching deep and dirty, with only a rare unearthing. His record: twenty-two holes. Twenty-two! In one of them, he found an empty wine bottle, message-less. Now, Zeke mostly sleeps in the same worn spot on the living room rug. I’m not sure which one of us will die first.
Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.
As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to at least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.
Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.
In one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, following your dreams could become a nightmare. Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in South Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes.
So when Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar.
But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find.
Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in psychiatric private practice exploring individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.
Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. In 2010, she moved to Metro Atlanta to work as an outpatient psychiatrist and has the continued honor of providing clinical care as owner & CEO of Hope Grove Psychiatry, PC. When she is not doctoring or writing, she is enjoying her family, her home, or her corner of the couch.