Category Archives: Life

My baby’s feet #babies #memoir

 

image by Deanna Schrayer
image by Deanna Schrayer
When I held my babies, whether to please them or to please me – usually both – I was fascinated with their feet. Not only were they tiny enough to hold in the palm of my hand, they were also tattooed with lines that I read like a fortune teller would read your palm to determine your future.
I could barely see the creases in my youngest son, Noah’s, feet, so faint were they, and I knew they’d never touch the ground.
I couldn’t keep Noah’s feet covered for anything in the world. Shoes? No – no matter how many times I picked them up off the floor and put them tightly back on his feet, off they’d come again in a giggling rage of escape. Covering his feet with a blanket was just as difficult.
My husband and I took turns walking Noah around the block in the middle of the night to get him to go to sleep. I always put socks on him, knowing the blanket we’d swaddled him in would be unwound and flapping in the wind with the first punch of his strong little fists. Still, wide awake and squawking, he knocked the blanket off his feet and for a moment all was quiet. Oh, yes! He’s finally asleep! I thought, careful not to announce it. But no, the moment he realized his feet were not bare his scream grew louder than ever.
Attempting to cover him back up, I rocked and rocked and rocked Noah as I walked like a drunk down the street. His red face hit my shoulder in rhythm to the beat of my heavy footsteps as he bashed his little legs together, rubbing at his ankles in an attempt to free himself of the socks.
For fifteen, twenty minutes the furious fit jarred the entire neighborhood until I’d reached our house for the twelfth time and, seeing our front door wide open at two AM, and plum exhausted, I imagined the ecstasy of the bed I desperately needed to be in. Noah’s temper finally beat out my patience and, back in the house, standing by our bed, I held on to my screaming son as tightly as he’d allow, kicked off my own shoes, laid down with him on my chest, took a deep breath and rolled over to lay him beside me.
But it wasn’t until I reached down and pulled his socks off that Noah stopped crying. Relieved, I pulled the covers up to my chest and, consequently, to Noah’s. The warning sob reached my ears quicker than it could leave his little mouth. Before the sob became a scream I jerked the blanket back off both of us. A heavy contented sigh escaped my son’s mouth.
As I lay my head on the pillow and tucked my baby into the crook of my arm, his free feet kicking at thin air, he laughed, a great baby belly laugh. In the next second he was sound asleep.
*
I came across this snippet, (when gathering stories for memoirs I’m working on), and wanted to share, in the hopes it brings the same smile to you that it brought to me.

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Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction. I also have just launched The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fainwhere I share my fiction, writing under the pen Roslyn Fain.

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The Other Side of Deanna is back! And she even has a name….. #fridayflash group

Hi everyone. Some of you may recall that I had two separate blogs, The Life of a Working Writer Mommy for my nonfiction, and The Other Side of Deanna for my fiction. A little more than a year ago I combined those blogs into This Side Over Yonder because I was posting mostly fiction and felt it was cumbersome to maintain two sites. I also wanted the URL to reflect my name, which This Side Over Yonder does.

Now, since I am fortunate enough to have more time to write, and because I will be posting more nonfiction articles, I have built a new site for my fiction, The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fain.

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Years ago I wondered why anyone would want to use a pen name; now that I’m building my freelance career. yet still want to write fiction, I understand. Although Deanna and Roslyn are one-in-the-same, there is a vast difference in their personalities…..did I just say I have a split personality? Well, I am a writer!…..there is the business side of me (Deanna) and there is the playful side (Roslyn) and I feel they both deserve their own place.

Why the name Roslyn Fain? Fain is my mother’s maiden name and Roslyn was the first thing that popped into my head (which I always go with). It is apparently an old-fashioned name, had its peak in the 1940s, and fell off the “popular names” list in 1978. My family tells me I do look like a Roslyn, so there you go. I hope you’ll stop by The Tale Well and enjoy Roslyn’s first story, Those First Nights.

What about you? Do you use a pen name? What is it, and how did you hit upon that particular name? (If you’re using your pen name be brave and tell us your real name). 🙂

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The Journals: A Life #fridayflash #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry #amwriting

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In celebration of National Poetry Month, my Friday Flash this week is not a flash at all, but a poem (though if you consider it prose instead I suppose it could be called a flash). Be sure to check out Robert Lee Brewer’s  PAD challenge on Writer’s Digest and have a go at poetry yourself, whether you normally pen poems or, (like me), do not.

The Journals: A Life, was inspired by last year’s PAD challenge prompt, to write a poem about “new arrivals”. Though I quickly threw a poem together that day it was quite unorganized and so I’ve messed with it several times over the past year. I hope you enjoy!

the journals

The Journals: A Life, by Deanna Schrayer

Battered dun Samsonite filled near to                                    

flowing over, bought sixteen years hence,                    

from a stranger’s yard one Saturday.                                     

She knows there’s more room – the letters need          

only be rearranged. “You can’t take                                       

it with you,” friends mock… yet again.                        

 

Thin yellows move aside grudgingly.                            

Worn creams scoot over, more accepting,                    

(they are young yet, they know no better).                   

There are those that were once aflame with                            

neon glow, dim now beyond color                                

itself. Dull nothingness, remains.                                  

 

Tattered scraps dance with joy. Only these                            

are thrilled with the company, welcome                                                   

her new words with a potent hunger,                                     

leap into the dusty air, flutter                                       

about, embracing one another,                                               

glide like feathers to the bottom.                                   

 

She sits on the lid, blocking daylight                                      

altogether, clasps the lock, wonders,

once again, how many years will have

passed before her eyes feel the need to

touch those words flowed from ink-stained, aching

fingers. What those words will mean, then.

********

Go here to read a couple of my favorite poems. Who are your favorite poets? Do you have a particular favorite poem?

Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

Click here to follow me on Facebook, and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction.

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On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon is more of a character sketch, (or two-character sketch I should say), than anything.  It’s an excerpt of a short story I jotted down ages ago and have recently picked back up. I’d like to know how interested you are in learning more about these two. On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon is rated PG-13, according to my standards. Enjoy!

Original photo courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery
Original photo courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery

On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon, by Deanna Schrayer

The young woman nearly fell into Johnny’s restaurant, soaked by the torrential storm slapping the converted brick bungalow like a toy sailboat, her red-gold curls stuck to her face and streaks of mascara pouring from her cat-green oval eyes. She stood panting inside the doorway, bent at the waist and holding on to her knees, gasping for breath.

It was mid-afternoon, only one customer at the bar – Harry the Hobo he was called – and Johnny was polishing glasses behind the bar.

“You all right?” Johnny said, looking at her as if she might be a mirage.

“I’m….I need….” She struggled to find that elusive breath. Johnny stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards her, slowly. He had the illogical feeling if he approached her too quickly she may lash out and belt him a good one. He stopped a couple feet from her and asked again, “Are you okay?”

She looked up at him, straightened, and drew in her lips. She frowned and stared at Johnny as if trying to decide whether or not to trust him. “I…I just had to get out of the wind, it was blowing me all over the place.” She laughed as if the thought delighted her, but it sounded forced. He could easily imagine the wind tossing her about though as she wasn’t as big as one leaf of a willow tree. But something about her demeanor told him she could withstand many storms, that she had already withstood many storms.

Johnny nodded to the drenched girl, “Sit down over here, I’ll get you a drink.” He motioned her towards the only red vinyl bar stool that wasn’t torn.

“Oh, no, thank you but I…I think I’ll just stand here a few minutes, until the storm blows over. Thanks though.” She turned and gazed out the window as if looking for someone, biting her fingernails.

“Naw, now, you get on over here and sit down,” Johnny said, returning to his place behind the bar. She turned and took a tentative step and he sat a full glass of dark liquid on the bar and said, “Drink’s on the house.”

She carried a well-used backpack and wore a thick velvet peasant’s shirt the color of ripe grapes, the soaked material clinging to her slight frame and riding up her torso to reveal a flat belly, and jeans that sported several holes horizontally slashed down the thighs. Johnny couldn’t decide whether the denim was artfully torn or if she’d recently crossed a mad cat. She looked, to Johnny, like a princess who had carelessly stepped away from the palace to follow a rabbit down a hole and couldn’t find her way back home.

She walked slow but steady to the bar and sat down. “Thank you,” she said as she tipped the glass back and greedily sucked down the drink. She sat the glass down hard on the bar and sputtered, “What is this stuff?” she said, shivering.

“Brandy,” Johnny told her, “It’ll warm you up right good.” His broad smile revealed crow’s feet that, along with the silver tufts of downy hair framing his ears, told her he was old enough to be her father.

“Whew, I’d say!” She picked the glass back up and laughed the most infectious laugh he’d ever heard.

Johnny offered his hand and introduced himself. “Johnny Diamanté,” he said, and nodded towards the end of the bar, “That there’s Harry.” The hobo glanced her way and nodded his head, a camo baseball cap concealing his eyes. He raised his own mug of beer in salute.

Johnny detected a hint of fear in her eyes. She was slow to take his hand. When she did he was surprised at how warm her hand was. “I’m Stormy,” she said, and smiled, “Stormy Lassiter.” He wondered if she’d plucked the name from the rain that had ushered her inside.

Since that night Stormy was at the bar every evening. She didn’t drink much and she rarely ate, but Johnny didn’t mind as the simple fact of her presence seemed to pick up business. She soon became sort of a mascot of Diamanté’s Bar and Grill, floating around and socializing with the customers, men and women alike. Stormy would often leave with a couple or a group of girls, but never with men alone, which Johnny was grateful for; (he certainly didn’t want the place getting a reputation for that kind of business).

Stormy may return that evening or she may not, but she was always there the next evening, alert and ready to do it all over again. It was like having a free hostess. Often Johnny would nearly force Stormy to eat something in order to mask the guilt he felt for not offering her a paying job. He’d have the cook make up a plate of appetizers, and Johnny would set it down in front of her and say, “Eat.” When she tried to protest, pushing the plate away, saying she wasn’t hungry, Johnny persisted, holding her eyes hostage, pushing the plate back towards her and giving his head one sharp nod, “Eat.” She’d let the food sit while she talked to the patrons, giving it a cursory glance now and then, and finally Johnny would see her sneaking bites here and there, as if she was afraid of being caught.

It would be several years before Johnny recalled that look in her eyes, the shock of catching it a second time reeling him into a past he wasn’t sure if he was glad had happened or not.

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Surviving New Year’s Eve with teenage sons = ONE resolution

Have you made your 2014 resolutions or have you been procrastinating as I have? At least I was…until last night….Now I have defined my one resolution for this glorious new year: on December 31, 2014, I will either sleep through the day and go out that night or I will sleep through the entire day and night, period.

Oh yea, I may miss the first twenty-seven seconds of 2015, unlike the first twenty-seven seconds of 1997 – 2013 when I roamed between rooms trying to find something less painful than toothpicks to hold my eyes open with while my sons cranked up the music and bounced wall-to-wall between those same rooms. But – it will be worth it.

Yesterday, (after an hour of scraping the remains of what was supposed to be my infamous butter-pecan cake for Christmas from my oven), I spent approximately eighteen hours in my [small] kitchen creating glorious dips and appetizers, slicing veggies, fruit, cheese, and, eventually, my finger, while my 14-and-16-year old sons seemed to be waiting patiently to consume all these heavenly dishes, the youngest battling with his friends on his PS3 while the oldest downloaded seventeen editing programs, and quite probably a virus, to my computer in order to slow it further down than it already was.

After loading the dining room table up with this beautiful food and giving the signal for them to dig in, they didn’t move. Not an inch. Okay, fine. “I’ll eat it all myself,” I told them, and proceeded to load my plate up.

When the youngest finally did glance up and saw that I was eating his favorite food, (that he specifically asked me to make) – sausage and pepperoni Stromboli – he said “Oh,” and grabbed a plate and placed two slices on it. I was happy. Then he sat his plate on the coffee table and picked his game controller back up and commenced to slaughter zombies with his buds. The Stromboli sat unloved on his plate for hours while my oldest swore, when I asked him every ten minutes if he’d eaten anything, that yes, he’d been grabbing stuff here and there. But I could see he was not telling the truth – the fruit and veggies and Stromboli, even the banana pound cake, was wilting on the table.

But I let it pass. They both normally eat like the teenage boys they are and I figured that when they finally did get hungry they’d eat.

And I was right. About an hour later the oldest says to me, “Can I make Ramen noodles?”

Are you kidding me?! “Absolutely not,” I said, and continued with a tirade of “after I spent all dang day in the kitchen cooking for you guys” and “If you’re hungry you’ll eat what I cooked for you,” and yadayadayada…..But of course I gave in, though he did have to make the noodles himself.

At twenty-seven-after-midnight, I had no energy at all to clean up, so this morning my kitchen and dining room were loaded down with all manner of dishes, (how the boys can seemingly not eat a thing but dirty every plate, bowl and glass in the house is beyond me), and I sit here writing while my home begs for attention.

I’ve heard tell that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you’ll do every day for the rest of the year. In that case, for the remaining 364 days of 2014, I will ignore my poor neglected home, and I will write, write, write! Sounds like a good resolution to me!

So how’s your year thus far?

Deanna on New Year's Eve 2014 image via wallcg.com
Deanna on New Year’s Eve 2014
image via wallcg.com

P.S. The truth: I would frankly be lost without having my sons to cook for and I’m fairly certain that this one small resolution will be shattered. I am beyond grateful that God has given me such kind, loving gentlemen to share my life with. I am blessed.

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