#Rebirth : A Waste Of Time

“Have you watched him?” Kelly smiled as she pointed toward Edward.

“No.” Kelly admitted. “I’ve never been here with him.”

The two walked through the Camellia garden, taking their time, drinking in the colors and shapes of the Camellia blossoms filling the trees. “You should watch him.”



Cynthia watched Edward walk among the trees, with his camera. Edward stopped often and took another picture of another Camellia bloom. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of booms on a single tree. Sometimes, he took a dozen pictures of a single bloom. “What am I supposed to see?”


Him? She saw him five times a week at work. She talked with him, ate lunch with him, swapped birthday cards with him. Edward was her friend from work.

They followed Edward through the trees, keeping him in sight as he moved from tree to tree. He moved in circles, and zig zag lines. He stopped at a tree, took pictures, then looked around, spotted another tree, and made his way to it.

Cynthia checked the time on her watch. Twenty minutes of walking from tree to tree. “What is he doing?”

Kelly giggled. “He’s remembering.”

“Remembering what?”

Kelly didn’t answer. Cynthia shook her head. Twenty minutes staring at trees. Taking pictures with no rhyme, no reason. He had plenty of pictures. How many pictures could he take of Camellia trees and their flowers?

“He has thousands of pictures of Camellia blooms.”

“He does?”

Kelly’s smile was a relaxed, happy smile. “And he still takes more.” She watched Edward moving around a specific bloom, trying to hold his camera to take the best shot, with the best framing and background. “Don’t you wonder why?”

“It’s a waste of time.”

“Is it?”

Cynthia wanted to scream, “Yes! I have things to do! Places to go! A life to live! Deadlines, and commitments. I can’t be here, wasting time, wandering through a bunch of trees, looking at stupid flowers!”

“Why is it a waste of time?”

“What?” Surely, Kelly knew she’d asked a stupid question.

“Why is it a waste of time?” Kelly’s grin told Cynthia she knew everything, every reason taking pictures of flowers was silly, and a waste of time.

“You know.”

“So tell me.”

Cynthia took a deep breath and shook her head. “It’s his day off. He’s got things to do. A home to take care of. Laundry to wash. Dishes to wash. A lawn to mow. His family to take care of. Groceries to buy.”

“Yes. He does.”

“He doesn’t have time to wander around, taking stupid pictures.”

“Watch him.” Kelly resumed watching Edward, her eyes alive with color, and light, as if seeing something beautiful, something special. Cynthia had seen that look, she knew what it meant.

“What are you watching?”

“Just watch.”

She watched Kelly, as Kelly watched Edward. She realized Kelly was stopping at the same trees Edward stopped at, looking at the same Camellia blooms he looked at, watching him to see where he went, what he looked at.

“He always finds the prettiest blooms.”

Cynthia looked at the Camellia blooms too. Pink, red, white, and variegated, pink and red, pink and white, red and white. All of them different. Some just starting to open. Others in full bloom. Bright green leaves, others dark forest green, others almost pastel green, dark green, almost black veins laced through them.

The petals of the booms weren’t solid colors. Some looked like velvet. Others were like the leaves, veins of color laced through them. Pink with pink veins. Red with black veins. White with white.

She found herself carefully examining Camellia blooms. Their colors, their textures, their shapes. She found her eyes drinking in their colors, trying to burn them into her memory, so she could see them when she closed her eyes. So she could dream of them at night.

Cynthia watched Edward move from tree to tree, “He doesn’t care about the pictures, does he.”

“He doesn’t.” Kelly smiled, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

“He’s not here to take pictures.”

Kelly didn’t answer, moving to another of the Camellia blooms Edward has stopped at. Cynthia joined her, the two of them drinking in the sights Edward lead them too. Cynthia forgot about time. About responsibilities. About everything.

“Do you understand?”

Cynthia felt lighter. Less encumbered. Less trapped. She closed her eyes, and had to smile. “I want to look at more flowers.”

“Tell Edward.” Kelly pushed her toward Edward. “He’s been here dozens of times. He knows where all the flowers are. When they bloom. When they peak. When to find them.”

“I can’t. I don’t want to bother him.”

Kelly giggled again. She marched up to Edward. “Cynthia wants to see more flowers.”

Edward grinned, nodded, and off he went. They followed him, through the camellias, to a paved path to another part of the garden filled with Azaleas in full bloom.

He smiled at Kelly. “Will this do?”

All she could do was nod.

“You’re welcome,” and he smiled. She’d never seen his eyes so alive. She watched him walk through the Azaleas, many so filled with color, and with blooms, she couldn’t even see their leaves. Some towered over her. Some were tiny bushes, barely knee-high. Some lined walkways with walls of color. Pink, red, almost orange, white, and even blue with white middles. Oceans of blooms.

“I told you to watch him.”

Cynthia giggled.

“Do you know why?”

“He remembers, doesn’t he.”

Kelly laughed.

“He remembers what life is.”

Kelly drank in the colors and fragrances of the Azaleas. “Yes, he does. And every time he comes here, it brings him back to life.”

Cynthia couldn’t argue with her. Just by watching Edward, she’d felt her heart and soul wake up from the sleep she put them in each day when she became a responsible grown up.

“He remembers.”

“Shut up, Kelly. I have Azaleas to look at.”

They both laughed.


#RaceTheDate : Life In The Water, On The Water, Or Underwater

“It is time I remembered who I am.”

That’s all the note said. Oceana placed it on the pillow of her bed within the castle at the bottom of the Eastern Sea. She longed to hug her son once more. To walk through the flowers in the castle gardens once more. She knew she could not.

It was time for her to step aside, and let her son, Sword, rule. It was time for her to heal the wounds in her heart and find the missing pieces of her soul.

Sword would know. He would understand. She’d left him a message only he could read, in the drawings scattered about the note.

Oceana left the castle through the window of her room. Her wings silently propelled her from her home of centuries, into the freedom of the sea. She needed to remember. To experience. All of the life of the sea. The life in the water, on the water, or under the water. It had been so long she’d forgotten.

As she flew through the ocean currents, she closed her eyes, and tried to feel the oceans touch. Centuries before, she felt every movement of the water past her body, between her fingers, across the soles of her feet.

All she felt was empty.

She wanted to cry for the lost pieces of her soul, and the scars life had made in her heart. But no tears flowed.

She let her wings take her where they wished, soaring past schools of fish and gardens of coral. They too her from the kingdom she’d ruled for too long, into the wilderness at the bottom of the sea. Where she could remember how to feel. Where she would remember who she was. Where she would once more become one with the sea.

300 Words

A little story I couldn’t resist writing for Cara Michaels‘s Race The Date flash fiction challenge. Hope you enjoy it. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge this week. I find it amazing the stories people can create in 300 words or less.

Storming RV Land, Day 2

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Never in all my life have I seen as many RVs as I’ve seen today. Let me clarify. I don’t think I’ve seen as many RVs in my entire life, cumulative, from the time I was born through yesterday, as I saw at one time today.

Today was also the first time I ever set foot in an RV that had a retail recommended price, from the manufacturer, of over $600,000 USD. I kept hearing Jim Carrey standing in the door of the RV, going, “Oh, my God!” and “Wow!”

We even found one with a safe built into the walk-in closet at the very back of the RV.

We got caught in the rain twice. One this morning, shortly after 0900. Once this afternoon, around 1600 hours. I told Pat, “After the first 80 or so, I forgot all of them. Couldn’t describe any of them to you. Other than, “That one was a bus. That one was built on a Mercedes-Benze chassis. That one was on a Ford chassis.” I couldn’t tell you dip about any of the contents of them. They had beds, kitchens, showers. Everything you’d need in a mini house to survive.

We did NOT look at pull behind RVs. No trailers. No 5th wheels. I’m good with that. We looked at Class A, B and C motor-homes. And then, we limited the range to 35 feet. I remember there were several 24 foot homes that she liked. And they worked for me. I’m simple. She knows that.

She’s looking for something she can live in for weeks at a time. Perhaps for as long at three months at a time. She’ll need a generator. She wants a cushy, full bath. And a kitchen she can actually cook in. The minimum we found that worked for her today were 24 feet long. Most of what worked was 31 to 34 feet long.

Have you ever climbed up and down so many RV steps you have no idea how many it was? I have no idea how many we toured today. Clueless. I couldn’t even hazard a guess. I can say we started at the show’s opening this morning (0900), and we took a break for lunch (we went to the car, had soda to drink, and ate 6” Subway Subs we picked up last night), and then stuck it out at the show until, oh, 1630 hours or so. We left in the rain.

We then went to Troeg’s Craft Brewery. We had beer. I had a big glass of “Dream Weaver”. She had a big glass of Dead Reckoning Porter. We toured the brewery on the “self guided tour.” We bought a six-pack of mixed flavors. I think there are 5 flavors in it.

She’s going to be stiff in the morning. And have lots of muscles that ache. I’ll be fine. That’s already visible. Once I got some fluid in my body, and ate dinner at Red Robin, I was already walking fine, and I feel like I’ll be my normal self in the morning.

She’s already so sore, she’s threatening to make me drive a large part of the way home. Just so you know, I haven’t driven the car at all on this trip. She’s driven every bit of it so far.

Well. That sums up today. We went to the RV show. We explored 80,000,000,000,000,000 (80 quadrillion – yeah. That’s what’s after trillion.) RVs (I know it wasn’t that many, but I’m allowed to use insanely big numbers to describe what it felt like).

Oh, crud. She’s figured out the ceiling fan. Dang it. I liked sleeping in a room with no fan last night. Sigh. Oh, well. Such is life. At least I can pull the covers up, and tuck myself in.

Tomorrow, we make the trip home. And Friday night, we’ll sleep at home. I’m looking forward to that. I like my home. As filled with junk as it it. Because I know it’s a safe environment for me. I don’t have to worry about interacting with other people, like I do when we’re on the road, spending the night somewhere.

Yeah. I know. A lot of people don’t know how much effort that takes for me, or how exhausting it is. And even fewer people understand why it’s hard. That’s something you can figure out by watching me at things like the show today. I almost never spoke to anyone. Except her. I nodded a lot. I shook my head a lot. I said simple things like, “She’s in there,” and “No, thanks.”

What happens to me at big events is I overload. The sights, sounds, colors, people, crowd, endless sequence of events, event density in the environment. It all adds up, and overloads my ability to process information. So, I have to shut down large parts of that ability. I end up with vague memories of the event. Little clips from here and there. And general notes like, “We looked at an awful lot of RVs.” That happens, because that’s all I can process.

I spoke with my Doc one day about another aspect of my ASD. Night driving. I’ve told people before, I see everything. I mean EVERYTHING. When I’m driving at night, I see every tail light. Every headlight. Every street light. Every lighted sign. Every turn signal. I see the lights reflecting off the paint stripes on the road. I see flashes of light glinting off chrome body parts on cars. I see the DVD players in minivans and SUVs. I see the GPS stuck on the windshield of someone’s car. I see the dashboard lights on cars around me.

I’ve come to understand neurotypical people don’t see all that. It’s like their brains automatically filter out that stuff, and just concentrate on the “big picture”. Picking out the flow of traffic. Picking out the necessary details like, “the light is red, I have to stop.” Or “the flow is stopping, I have to match it.” At least, this is what I imagine neurotypical people do for night driving. I have trouble believing neurotypical people see all the illuminated business signs along the streets they drive down in the dark.

But like I said, I see EVERYTHING. And I have to physically process that information, and put it together into a picture. I have to decide, “that part isn’t important.” I have to decide, “the light ahead just turned red, I have to slow down, but I can’t slam on the brakes without causing an accident, so I have to slow down at a speed that prevents me from running into what’s in front of me, and gives the people behind me time to slow down, and not run into me.”

And this is the person that went to the biggest RV show on the East Coast today. Does anyone really think I’m going to remember what detail goes with which RV when I walked through a couple hundred RVs? Really?

And, yes, as the day wore on, I had less and less to say. And I remember less and less detail about the RVs. Funny thing is, in 20 years, I will be able to tell you, “On Thursday, 12 September 2013, Pat and I went to the RV show in Pennsylvania.” Just like I can say, “On Wednesday, 13 July 1977, Pat and I met. At freshman orientation. At ODU.”

Yeah. I’m not normal. I know that.

#12DaysBop : Day 5 – Camellia Blooms

It’s day 5 of Stacy Hoyt’s 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop. Today, the topic is flowers. I love flowers. And this time, I went with something true, for someone I remember…

IMG_2655They say, as long as you remember someone, they are still alive. At least in some way. I like that thought very much. Because it means you’re still alive. Because, I remember you. We went to high school together. You were one of my friends. I had so few friends back then.

I remember your smile. The way it made your eyes crinkle. I used to look in those eyes of yours. They weren’t the prettiest I’d ever seen. But they were pretty. Yes, you weren’t a hot chick. It was the 70s. The days of Charlie’s Angles. Dukes of Hazard. You certainly didn’t compare to Jill Munroe, or Daisy Duke. But then, who did? You looked pretty to me.

I’m sorry for all the 33 years we missed between then, and when we met again. It was sad to learn you were so very ill. I remember calling you. Some people said I was doing that ’cause I was being nice to you. They said I was doing that ‘cause it was the right thing to do. But you knew. You knew I was calling you because I wanted to. I wanted to talk with you. Not that I ever said much. But I did love to listen to your voice.

I’d hoped to visit you someday. Meet your family. But that never happened.

You loved the pictures of flowers I shared with you. Especially the Camellias. I find sometimes, walking here, through the Camellia trees filled with blooms. I remember you. Your smile. Your laughter. The sound of your voice.

I’m glad I do. And maybe someday. When when it’s my turn to move on. I’ll get the chance to visit you again.

Please go enjoy the rest of the stories in the blog hop. There are some really gifted writers out there. It’s well worth reading their work. You can find the other entries here:

The 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop, Day 5 – The Gift Of Flowers

Every Now And Then

Every now and then
I remember.
Who I used to be.
What I used to do.
Who I used to know.

I remember the words
The Princess of Laughter spoke.
“We will always be friends.”
“I promise you.
We will both be OK.”

I remember names.
I remember faces.
Of people I worked with.
Some of them
For 13 years.

Until October 12th
Of 2010.
That was the day
Everything changed.
That was the day
I was blocked
From the work place.

That was the day
When everything that was
Erupted into flames.
That would burn uncontrolled.
Until everything that was
Was turned to ash
That slowly floated away,
Carried on the wind.

Leaving nothing.
Nothing at all.
Of what had been.

Sometimes I remember
Lessons that I learned
Through fire.
And through pain.
About the way
That people are.
About the way
They behave.

Sometimes I remember
The words I was told
They’d all said
About me.
How they all claimed
They were concerned.

I learned, with time
They all believed they were
Concerned for me.
What I was going through.
That they were concerned
For my family.

I even learned
Some of them prayed
For me.

But there was a line
In their reality
They could not cross.
A line I’ve learned
Does not exist
For me.

I can do much more
Than pray.
For I am not afraid
Of any of the things
That could happen
If I show I care
For someone that I know.

Everyone there knew
She had cancer.
She was fighting for her life.
No one changed.
No one at all.
Except for me.

In their own way
Several of the people
I once knew
Tried to talk with me.
And warn me.
Of what would happen.

I didn’t understand their words.
Didn’t understand at all
Their concern for me.
And for the job I’d had
For 28 years
At that point.

The assumption, of course,
Was that I understood
What everyone was saying.
Because they all said
The same things.
They all behaved
The same way.

None of the people I worked with
Ever understood the truth.
That I don’t understand
Their social behavior ways.
Those ways
Elude me
To this day.
They always have.
They always will.

That’s part of what Autism is.

Sometimes I remember
People that I found
Along the way
From the life I’d had.
To the life I’m building now.

And much to my dismay,
They behaved the same way
As the people
I once worked with.

More than once
I heard the words,
“I can’t get involved.
All I can do
Is pray.”

I’ve learned.
People are afraid.
Of life.
Of pain.
Of change.
Of anything
They can’t control.
They can’t understand.

I’ve learned.
I was removed from work.
Because I was
One of those things.
That could not be controlled.
That could not be understood.

A lot of people
Were afraid of me.

They never needed to be.

Sometimes I remember
What once was.
And every time I do
I end up asking God.

Don’t give up on them.
Please don’t give up on them.
Find a way,
Like you did with me,
To wake them up.
To bring them back to life.
So they can understand
How cold.
How heartless.
How afraid.
They have become.

I can ask God for that.
For in very many ways.
I used to be the same
As the people
I once knew.

I Was Just Afraid

As I’ve continued on this new journey I’m on through life, in this world I never made, I’ve learned so many things. And today, I’ve learned something I never understood before. I’ve had panic attacks all my life. And I never knew it. Neither did anyone else.I can remember one day in 1983. I was at work. And nothing was going well that day. My day was awful. I don’t remember all the details of what people had said to me. Of how people had behaved. But I do remember sitting at the desk I was assigned to. Looking into a desk drawer. And I remember shutting that drawer. Hard. So hard that I separated all four of the seams in the corners of the front of that drawer. The entire drawer went a quarter of an inch further into the desk after that. The front of the drawer was visibly bent at the top right corner. And when you pulled the drawer out, you could see where all four pieces of metal that attached the front to the rest of the drawer had straightened out a bit. You could see the gaps in the seams at each of the front’s four corners. And I remember after I closed that drawer, I got up. And I walked away.

I have no idea where I went. I just don’t remember. I know I stayed gone until I was OK to work.

I can remember one day in August of 1976. It was a Wednesday. Every Wednesday night the high school aged youth of the church had a youth group meeting. That Wednesday night was no exception.

I still wonder how the hell a youth group got onto the topic of women serving aboard US Navy vessels. I just knew I got hammered for being rational and pointing out that having women on an US Navy ship that was deployed at sea meant there would have to be changes in the design of the vessel. And I remember how outrageously angry that got people with me.

Too the point I couldn’t take it any more. And I got up, and walked away. I walked from the back yard of a house that day, down streets I’d never set foot on. In neighborhoods I didn’t know were there. I’d walked until I had calmed down. Until I felt like I could behave again.

I have so many tales like this that I remember from my life.

So many days in July, August and September of 2010, when I went to work. And wound up walking on the beach. Because I couldn’t stay in the building any more. In that 12 weeks, I must have consumed 60 sodium naproxen pills fighting off the headaches I endured just by parking my car in the parking lot. Headaches that got worse as I approached the building. I remember the pills didn’t cure the headaches. Instead, changed my pain threshold, so I could cope with the pain I was in.

I can remember 3rd grade. When Dad joined the US Navy. And we moved. From our home in Merrigold, Mississippi. To an apartment in Middletown, Rhode Island. Everyone thought I had a temper, and my temper showed at school. I got put into time out lots. I even broke the bottom of a desk.

No one knew. No one knew at all. How much of the things I went through then were actually caused by panic. But as my understanding of things grows. I know. I can see where panic touched my life. Even then.

Most people think of panic attacks as people trembling with fear. Hiding in their home. Unable to leave. It’s a common assumption people make. That people have to behave as if they were afraid of their own shadows to suffer panic attacks. To have problems with anxieties.

That’s a common myth. Another lie. That society puts in place to make people comfortable with the way things are. I know this because I know what I sometimes do in a panic attack. I know what the law of fight or flight is all about. And I know that in a panic-stricken state, I would do anything to escape. Including fight.

It’s what I did in 3rd grade. When I was so afraid of failure. So afraid of not getting the best grades I could get. That I lashed out every time I failed. That I punished myself, for letting my parents down. That I panicked. Wondering. “What will they think of me! I’ve let them down!”

No one understood at all. I got taught lots of ways to manage my temper. Take a deep breath, hold it, and count to 10. And lots of other things. Like covering up the bad wood used in a building’s frame with drywall. So that no one knows it’s there.

I’ve learned the physical symptoms my body exhibits when my panic sets in. The tension in my chest, shoulders, and neck. The way that my hands shake, and I can’t stop them. My sudden inability to think at all. Other than one word. “Escape!” The way my pulse goes crazy. Rocketing up to near 100 beats per minute. And maybe even more.

And I’ve learned how to cope with those signs. To treat them as the signals they really are. To find my way through the events that triggered my attack. So that more and more, my attacks don’t rule me, and don’t determine how I behave. More and more I make the choice for myself about what to do.

It’s like for the first time in my life, I’m finding the answers I’ve always needed, and always sought. Answers to the problems I’ve always had. Problems I never understood before. Problems that no one around me ever understood. I was never “bad”. I was never “mean”. I was never angry, with a temper.

I was just afraid.

And no one ever understood.

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Close your eyes.
Then put your hands together
In your lap.
Sit there.
Sit still.



Breathe in.
Feel your lungs fill
With the air they need
To sustain your body.
To sustain your life.

Breathe out.
Feel your lungs expel
So many things
That your body
Does not need.


Breathe in.
And remember.
Some one you once knew.
Some one who
Is now gone.

Breathe out.
And feel the ache
Of that loss.
A loss
You have never faced.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The magic light
That you could see
In her eyes.
Every time
You looked in them.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the pain
That you still feel.
You have never faced.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The way her smile
Touched your frozen,
Rock hard heart.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the fear
That you still carry.
That now
She hates you.


Breathe in.
And remember.
The music
Of her laughter.
A music
That you hadn’t heard
In far too many years.

Breath out.
And let go.
Of the fear you saw
When she spoke with you
On Saturday.
September 11th.
Of 2010.


Breathe in.
And remember.
What it was like
To at long last
Have a friend.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the darkness
In your heart.
Darkness you still feel.
At how everything
Came to its end.


Just breathe.

Breathe in.
And draw in
All the hurt.
And all the pain.
That you know
Are out there.
In this world.

Breathe out.
And send into the world
The understanding
You now have.
Of how precious
Every heartbeat is.


Breathe in.
And draw in
All the sadness
Your heart tells you she felt.
When your old life
Reached it’s awful

Breathe out.
And send to her
The truth.
That you are OK.
That you have found a way
To smile again.


Breathe in.
And draw in
The fear that you have.
That the things you did.
The things you said.
In those days
When you were hurt
So much worse
Than you will ever say.
Caused her
To go away.

Breathe out.
And know the truth.
That she spoke to you.
When she told you
That you both
Would be OK.


Just breathe.

And remember.
That you are most afraid
When you near the truth.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That your fear
Is just a feeling.
And feelings
Come and go.
They’re transient
You know.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That the only way there is
In this life you’ve been blessed with
To find an answer
To a question.

Is to ask.

Just breathe.

And remember.
Who you are.
And what you wish to be.

The compassionate,

That life meant
For you to be.