Her Favorite Characters. Yours?

She insisted on dressing up as her favorite characters.  One day last month she had decided to don an empire style dress and tiny slippers and be Elizabeth Bennett, picking up her mail at the post office and laying it into a basket half-filled with flowers.  Last week she had done the obvious and stuck some vampire teeth in her mouth, making sure to smile a lot when she stopped at the library.  Today she had decided to be crazy Mrs. Rochester from Jamaica and now imprisoned in the tower at Thornfield Hall.  This took a bit more thought.  She tried bare feet, a gypsy skirt, and a rather worn linen shirt, not quite tucked in.  She ratted her long hair so it looked like very a messy nest with some straw mixed in.  The nice people at the grocery store merely nodded and tried not to look embarrassed.

32 responses to “Her Favorite Characters. Yours?

  1. As Mother’s Day approaches, I feel compelled to write about my Mother, Josie. She was born in Rushville, Indiana in 1926 and died in 2009 in Goshen. During the eighty-three years in between those events, she married, gave birth to three children and cut a swath through life that was admirable in its’ boldness.
    My parents, Josie and Bill, built two houses during my childhood. Josie was more adept at the construction arts than the culinary arts. She could “puddle” air bubbles out of fresh concrete much easier than “puddle” gravy in a mound of mashed potatoes.
    Both my Mother and Father had regular 9 to 5 weekday jobs, but they also had a dance band that played for functions all over Indiana each weekend . Until I was about 8, I thought that all parents got dressed up in tuxedos and evening gowns to go out singing and dancing every Saturday night. Josie was the vocalist of the band and my father played the keyboard. The music of my youth was, “String of Pearls” and “Sophisticated Lady.”
    In some respects, my Mother was fearless. In 1993, I suffered a broken neck as a result of an accident. This required that I undergo neck surgery and my doctor was in Indianapolis. Therefore, Josie and I made several trips to Indy. During one trip, we came upon a traffic jam just South of Warsaw. Cars and trucks were stopped on both sides for about a quarter mile. We didn’t see any sign of a collision or emergency vehicles. Just the same, we were only creeping forward. After about ten minutes into the crawl, Josie was finally able to see what the trouble was. A bull had broken through his confinement at a nearby farm and was running rampant on the highway, butting everything in sight. He was obviously irritated and did not hesitate to leave his impression on several cars. He even broke out the rear side window of the auto in directly in front of us.
    The bull then turned his attention toward our van. I was terrified, not only because I was still in a neck brace but because I saw that my Mother was fully determined to put an end to this crushing chaos. As the bull readied himself to smash into Josie’s door, she rolled down her window, pointed her finger directly into the bull’s face and yelled,
    “YOU GO HOME !”
    The bovine was more astounded than I was, and I was astounded to the point of peeing my pants. He lowered his head, pivoted on his hind legs, and walked slowly back to the farmyard.
    Joise rolled up her window and said, “So much for that. Let’s get this show back on the road.”
    All the other cars and trucks began to honk their horns in gratitude as they passed us.
    That was the day my Bull-Headed Mother confronted a Bull…Head On.
    Josie was opinionated and , at times, tactless. She had a rapier wit measured with compassion. She loved her family and friends and most of all, the Lord. I am richly blessed to have been her child and I can’t wait to see what kind of mayhem she is causing in heaven.

    • I bet these are a few of many extraordinary memories you have of your mother. I admire her greatly after hearing of only one occasion wherein she took care of what seemed to be an unfixable problem.

      I love your words, “…cut a swath through life that was admirable in its boldness.”

      I’ve learned more about you as well. A broken neck! You’re one tough cookie yourself to have survived that.

      Lastly, you have painted with words a beautiful portrait of a woman you can indeed be proud to call Mother. Very nice writing, indeed.

      • Those were my favorite words too! “A swath through life that was admirable in its boldness.” Love this. What better character to pick as your favorite than your mother!

    • Hi Peanut,
      I read so much as BWW instructor that sometimes I hesitate to read a long piece here. Nonetheless, every single time I stop to read one of your postings, it only takes me about three sentences to get swept away and entertained. You’ll never know how much I appreciate that! You are a fine writer, and someone whose stuff I will always read.

  2. galelikethewind

    Beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. Feel like I got to know her just a little bit from your story. Nice ending as well, Peanut.

  3. Mary Lennox comes to me in that nearly imperceptible pause between the end of winter and the start of spring; that moment when you sense the tiny stirrings of life in seemingly deadened branches and barren earth. I see her in the corners of my garden, coaxing buds and flowers and leaves into existence. I anticipate Dickon to stop by and help her at any moment.
    Later, when summer nights arrive, full of shadows and gentle wind, I see Alice in her sky blue dress, stepping over bulging roots and mossy rocks. Above her head, up in the pines, floats a crazy kind of senseless smile. He’s always there, that leering cat. Why won’t he help her out?

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      This is delightful. Did I tell you how much I delighted in reading this? Nice work, Heather. Or, rather, were you playing when you gathered your thoughts and used these perfect combinations of words to share them with us?

    • I reread The Secret Garden not long ago, having seen about six different movie versions. Mary Lennox is a great character, especially since she goes through such a fine metamorphosis, coming to life much like spring.

      Love your Alice and the Cheshire Cat moments too. Senseless smile, leering but not helping. Ha!

  4. Heather, I love this piece. It is lyrical, whimsical and paints a vivid picture. The last two lines… tantalizing. .

  5. Thanks Peanut!

  6. Cheryl aka Shaddy

    Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables has to be my favorite fictional character. My second cousin gave me the book when I was eight years old. I retrieved it from my book shelves a few minutes ago and have it beside me right now.
    Merry Christmas 1957
    Cheryl Christine Doll
    Marilyn and Dick

    Marilyn wrote those words on the blank page just inside the front cover. Over the years, all of the pages have yellowed and the front and back covers aren’t as bright as they once were. Yet, nothing can diminish the joy I felt when I received this hard cover book so many years ago. I cherished it then and I cherish it today.

    Anne Shirley spoke her mind. Anne Shirley had challenges. Anne Shirley had red hair that matched her temper and set her apart. Anne Shirley had her faults. At a young age, I could identify with her spunkiness, her frustrations and her contemplations as I held the book in my hands and experienced her perspective with her.

    In 1996, my mother and I went to the Turner Middle School presentation of Anne of Green Gables. My mother had been diagnosed with Parklnson’s Disease and we couldn’t do a lot but we could watch this play together. Mom knew that I cherished Anne’s story and it felt good sitting beside her, both appreciating Marilyn and the gift she had given me so many years before.

    Thank you again, Marilyn, for your thoughtfulness.

    • Oh, Anne is one of my favorites too! I visited Prince Edward Island a few years ago and visited LM Montgomery’s grave and whispered many breathless thank you’s for all the cherished moments she gave me in my childhood. Nice pick for a favorite and I’m glad she comes with memories of your mom.

    • You speak so lovingly of Marilyn and her gift of great literature. I would suspect that was an important part in developing your true gift for writing. Thank you for your comments on my piece about my mother. It sounds like you also shared a very special relationship with your Mama.

    • I always liked Anne Shirley too since she not only was spunky but principled. That’s a trait that seems missing too much these days. She also was good at making lemonade out of lemons.

      The conjunction of the story, the play, your friend Marilyn, and that memorable night with your mom makes for a touching bit of writing, Shaddy.

  7. Why, oh why, am I so tempted to write something using the character, Lady Godiva? But we are off tomorrow for a long weekiend, sans computer. But its a long drive and my mind, well…

  8. “Did I ever tell you about the time the US Marshal sent a couple fellas out to bring in the corpse of old Billy Summers?” said Ed, wrapping his work-worn fingers around the dainty Irish Coffee glass.

    There was no need to mention that this story preceded Alaska statehood by decades, because almost all of Ed’s stories did. So did Ed, arriving in the territory as a five-year-old around 1906.

    He sat across our kitchen table from me, dressed in his usual dark gray twill trousers and gray cotton shirt. Like a gentleman, he’d removed his battered black quilted welder’s cap when he entered the house. Every once in a while someone would give Ed a new welder’s cap, and within days he’d have it squashed almost flat. How it stayed on his head was beyond explanation.

    He took another sip of the Irish Coffee. He and my husband Ken had polished off most of what had been a five-pound pot roast, complete with roasted potatoes and carrots. Dessert was Irish Coffees, and they were working on their third. I’d been adding more coffee and less whiskey after the first round.

    “Well, someone brought word to town that old Billy had kicked the bucket out at his trapping cabin, so the Marshal asked a couple guys to head out there and bring him in. It was not a job anyone wanted, because at last mention, Billy had topped 300 pounds, which was a hard load for any dog team.

    “They get out there to the cabin and it’s dark, so they decide to wait till morning to head back. The fellas had a bottle of rye with them and as the evening and the bottle wore thin, they came up with a plan.

    “Late the next day their dog team pulled into town with Billy in the basket. Those dogs were moving a bit spry for such a long trip and a heavy load, thought the Marshal, and when he pulled the tarp off the corpse he found out why.

    “Those two had field-dressed Billy. Chopped a hole in the ice on the lake and dropped his innards through it, relieving themselves of a huge weight.” Ed got as big a kick out his story as we did, but we didn’t care if they were true or not. They were just too good.

    And Ed was as tough a Sourdough as they came. He was average height for a man born in his generation, about 5’9′, but now in his late seventies his body was beginning to bow with the weight of hard work he’d done all his life. His gray hair was thinning and his hearing was slowly going, but his blue eyes sparkled with mischief as bright as the North Star.

    We tried to talk Ed into leaving his forklift at our house and letting Ken drive him the six miles to his home in Moose Pass, but he’d have none of it. Ken insisted on following him, though.

    Now, if you’ve ever been around forklifts, you know the steering wheels are in the back and the best way to road them is backwards, which means sitting sideways to the steering wheel or looking over your shoulder to see ahead. Ed chose looking over his shoulder, which was how he was steering when he reached the top of Mile 34 hill and kicked the machine out of gear.

    Down that hill for a mile and a quarter, Ed and the forklift steadily increased speed. One tiny wrong movement of the steering wheel and Ed and the forklift would be pieces scattered across the tundra. My husband had his mouth in his throat when Ed finally braked to a stop on the shoulder of the highway.

    “How fast was I going?” he yelled as he ran up to Ken’s truck. “How fast was I going?”

    Ken’s eyes were still large and round when he returned home and related to story to me. “Sixty-seven miles an hour,” he said. “The old coot was going 67 downhill backwards!”

    • I love hearing stories like these. I agree that it really doesn’t matter if they’re true or not; the teller is so entertaining we hang on every word and beg for more.

    • I don’t know if you can remember galumphing from BWW, but this reminded me of that. It’s as if someone said, “Gullie, you need to write a story about a black welder’s cap, a 300-pound dead Alaskan, and a forklift.” You always take me somewhere I’ve never been. What a treat.

    • galelikethewind

      Love a period piece like this with its two dubious tales. Great imagery, liked the way you tied in such things as “bright as the North Star” and “the evening and the bottle wore thin”. Your old coot is someone I can relate to.
      Thanks Gulllie..

  9. Godiva

    My steed shimmers with a brilliance whiter than snow. Her breath billows in a cumulus way in the cool morning air. Her gentleness requires only a bridle, guided by a touch of lightness that only I can give. The reins are woven of vines and feathers, embellished with wild flowers rich with dew. My frock drops from my shoulders, past my hips and to the ground. I am both vulnerable and free.

    I mount her back with ease. Her neck shivers as my thighs cling to her withers. I make that soft clucking sound and rein her to the right, onto the village road. A peasant points at me as he turns his head and comments to his wife. Peeping eyes follow me past their gossip and stares which I do not acknowledge. We ride with slowness and dignity, hooves softly clapping the ground. There is no need to trot.

    Towns people gaggle like geese, straining their necks for a better view. I do not care. It is for their own good I make this ride. They are not supposed to watch but they do. I try to cover my innocence as I pass by.

    I turn my steed to where my journey began, and as I approach the comfort of my castle a cry breaks the solitude of my ride.

    “Momma! Ellie is riding her bicycle in the street. Naked.”

    Copyright 2013, Jeff Switt

    • I love the contrast between the dignity of Lady Godiva on her famous ride and the harsh, tattletale words of Ellie’s sibling.

      You are quite the writer, young man. I’m a fan.

    • galelikethewind

      As you so cleverly answered ..what horse? Great and entertaining idea. Count me in as a fan as well. Thanks Jeff for another hoot.

    • Didn’t see it coming! I can just hear the screech of the sister, tattling. It seems freedom has a price!

  10. Precious. Absolutely precious and so evocative of childhood imaginations.

  11. Thank you all for your kind comments! Jeff

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